Tag Archives: Kerry Long

“Drowsy Chaperone”: Wake Up! Just 2 Performances Left!

It’s one thing for Staples Players to sell tickets to shows like “A Chorus Line,” “West Side Story” and “Guys and Dolls.”

Everyone knows the high school troupe will knock those familiar shows out of the park.

It’s a lot tougher to try to sell a musical few people have heard of — and with a sleep-inducing title.

Trust me: “The Drowsy Chaperone” will do more than keep you awake.

It’s laugh-out-loud hilarious. It’s superbly entertaining.

And it’s as Broadway-quality as every other Players production you’ve ever loved.

Drowsy Chaperone - Christian Melhuish, Aaron Samuels, Charlie Zuckerman - Kerry Long

Aaron Samuels (center) breaks theater’s “4th wall.” Playing “Man in Chair,” he also interacts with actors Christian Melhuish and Charlie Zuckerman. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The premise is a bit odd — a “Man in Chair” imagines an entire 1920s musical in his apartment — but trust me: It works.

Without knowing anything about 1920s musicals, you’ll get both the spoof of the genre — and the homage. The cast and crew clearly have fun. They straddle past and present — and their joy is infectious.

“The Drowsy Chaperone” features superb performances from — among others — Aaron Samuels (Man in Chair), and Jacob Leaf (Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof,” this time nailing a Latin lover in a performance that would make Rudolph Valentino swoon).

There’s tap dancing, show-stopping songs, and Players’ signature professional sets, costumes and pit orchestra.

Trix the Aviatrix descends onstage, in a memorable number. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Trix the Aviatrix descends onstage, in a memorable number. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Directors David Roth and Kerry Long have been bombarded with emails from fans who — like me — surprised themselves at how much they loved a play they knew nothing about.

Roth and Long knew when they chose “Drowsy Chaperone” that it would be a tough sell. They took the challenge anyway.

They’re happy to see that — thanks to word of mouth — tickets are going fast for Friday and Saturday’s final performances.

Consider this your wakeup call.

(“The Drowsy Chaperone” will be performed this Friday and Saturday — March 18 and 19 — at 7:30 p.m., at Staples High School. Click here for tickets.)

Players’ “Fiddler” A Show For The Ages

David Roth always liked “Fiddler on the Roof.” He just didn’t love it.

The longtime Staples Players director chose the show as his acclaimed troupe’s fall mainstage production.

Now he’s fallen in love with it. And — thanks to all that’s happening on the world stage — his high school actors are passionate about it too.

Jacob Leaf as Tevye in

Jacob Leaf as Tevye in “Tradition.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

“I knew ‘Fiddler’ was important because it exposes teenagers to what was happening at that point in history,” Roth says of the musical that opens this Friday.

“But I never expected it to resonate so much with the contemporary world.”

In the months since the show was chosen, the Syrian refugee crisis has exploded. The parallels with “Fiddler’s” story line — families and communities torn apart, then scattered all across the globe — help students connect yesterday and today.

They’re doing more than just talk about it. At the show this weekend and next, Players will raise funds to help female Syrian refugees. Women were chosen in part, Roth says, because “Fiddler” is a story of matchmaking.

“In the beginning, it was hard for kids to relate to that concept,” Roth notes.

Samantha Chachra (Tzeitel) and Remy Laifer (Motel) in

Samantha Chachra (Tzeitel) and Remy Laifer (Motel) in “Miracle of Miracles.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

When they studied the role of Chava — the eldest of the 3 daughters, who marries a Christian — he and his actors talked about religious tradition. None of the Staples students could really relate to the distress over intermarriage, epitomized by Tevye’s harsh comment, “You’re dead to me.”

But they did connect that to the current issue of same-sex marriage. Roth’s actors know that even in 2015, people are ostracized for marrying a same-sex partner. “Kids do understand what it means to go against norms and traditions,” the director says.

There’s another reason Roth has grown to love “Fiddler.”

“I’ve realized it’s an almost perfect, musical,” he says. “There’s great storytelling, songs and dance, and a fantastic balance of humor and pathos. That’s why it’s one of the most popular shows of all time.” The 5th Broadway revival opens soon.

But you don’t have to travel that far to see “Fiddler on the Roof.” The Staples curtain rises on Friday.

(“Fiddler on the Roof” runs Friday and  Saturday, November 13, 14, 20 and 21 at 7:30 p.m. Matinees are set for Sunday, November 15 and Saturday, November 21 at 3 p.m. Ticket sales are strong — so to order online now, click here.)

“Godspell” Spills Across The Staples Stage

“Godspell” is no stranger to Staples High School.

But Players’ 2 previous productions of the parable-based musical were performed as student-directed studio theater pieces.

Next week, “Godspell” spills across the main stage.

Part of

Part of “the tribe” of “Godspell.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

Over 50 students — all between ages 14 and 18 — present the vibrant show July 23, 24 and 25.

A cast that big presents challenges, notes director David Roth.

The original production includes only Jesus, Judas and 8 followers. Roth and co-director Kerry Long expanded that core group, then added an ensemble. They listen to Jesus’ words, and join in the celebration.

This production is also special because “Godspell” enjoyed a major Broadway revival in 2012. It featured new vocal arrangements, and script changes with plenty of modern references. There’s rapping, puppets — even a game of Pictionary.

This year’s Staples version includes those additions, along with a song not previously used on stage, “Beautiful City.”

Caroline Didelot and Jack Baylis share a duet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Caroline Didelot and Jack Baylis share a duet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Roth says he grew up loving the show. Its upbeat message of love and tolerance make it a great summer choice.

“Some of our recent productions, like ‘Cabaret’ and ‘Sweeney Todd,’ were very moving, but also very dark,” Roth adds. “‘Godspell’ is equally poignant, but in a joyous and exuberant way. It’s also a great show for the entire family, regardless of your religious beliefs.”

With opening night near, Players are working hard to make this the best summer production ever — day by day.

(“Godspell” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, July 23, 24 and 25, and 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. Tickets are available at www.StaplesPlayers.com, and at the door.)

Staples Players Bring “Laramie Project” To Life

When Staples Players director David Roth announced the spring Black Box Theater production — “The Laramie Project” — 80% of the actors had no idea who Matthew Shepard was.

But why would they? The oldest were 2 years old when the gay University of Wyoming student was beaten, tied to a fence and left to die in the Laramie night.

Roth and co-director Kerry Long are adept at presenting theater that educates audiences. This time, they’re educating their cast too.

“I don’t think kids in this community have any idea how tough it still is to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans in other parts of the country,” Roth says. “A lot of teenagers here don’t realize how we’ve gotten to this place of acceptance.”

Part of the reason Staples is a high school where students feel comfortable being who they are — whoever they are — is because of John Dodig. The principal has worked hard to create an environment of acceptance and inclusion. He retires this spring after 11 years at Staples — and 47 in education — so Roth and Long are proud to dedicate this year’s “Laramie Project” to him.

Sophia Sherman, Keanan Pucci and Nick Ribolla, ensemble members of “The Laramie Project.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

It’s the 2nd time Roth and Long are directing this show with Players. The 1st production was 8 years ago.

This set design is completely different. So is the use of technology, showing the use of TV cameras as world media descended on Wyoming.

Different too is that “The Laramie Project” now has a companion piece. In 2008 — 10 years after Matthew Shepard’s murder — the Tectonic Theater Project returned to the town. They interviewed many of the same people who contributed to the first play, as well as others — like Matthew’s mother Judy, and his 2 killers. All showed what had — and had not — changed in the intervening decade.

The result was another play: “The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.” It recently become available for licensing. Players will be one of the first companies anywhere to produce that show next year.

Each cast member plays multiple roles in

Each cast member plays multiple roles in “The Laramie Project.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

Roth and Long are excited about the opportunity to do their 1st-ever cycle. Some of this year’s cast will audition for the same roles a year from now. It’s a challenging way for them to look at their character’s growth — and their own.

The directors savor the chance to work with an ensemble. The cast of 18 covers over 60 roles. Each actor must understand multiple, nuanced characters. The hate crime evoked complex reactions among many Laramie residents.

It’s all part of the educational process that began when this generation of Staples students first heard the name “Matthew Shepard.”

(“The Laramie Project” will be presented in Staples’ Black Box Theater on May 28, 29, 30 and 31. Click here for times, and ticket information [available starting Saturday morning].)

Staples Players’ Post-Apocalyptic “Sweeney Todd”

Stephen Sondheim is notorious for writing difficult musical theater. And “Sweeney Todd” is considered to be his best — and perhaps musically toughest — work.

Which is exactly why the show has been chosen by directors David Roth and Kerry Long for this spring’s Staples Players mainstage production.

Sweeney Todd poster

The curtain rises next Friday (March 13) on a unique version of the 1979 Tony Award-winning thriller. Set not in 1849, but 200 years later — 2049 — Staples’ “Sweeney” envisions a post-apocalyptic world. The undefined-but-class-war-type disaster unfolded in 2015 — this year — when both Sweeney Todd and Nellie Lovett were 17. That’s the age, of course, of the stars of the show.

Those stars have embraced what Roth and Long are asking them to do.

“Musically, this is the most challenging production since I’ve been here,” says Roth, a 1984 Staples graduate who directed his first Players show in 2000.

“The harmonies, rhythms and lyrics are all very tough,” Roth says. “That’s why actors love it.”

Sweeney Todd (Everett Sussman) and Mrs. Lovett (Juliet Kimble), in an intense scene. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Sweeney Todd (Everett Sussman) and Mrs. Lovett (Juliet Kimble), in an intense scene. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Before auditions began, Roth compared it to “A Chorus Line.” He told potential cast members that, just as that show demanded above all else the ability to dance, this one revolves around musicality.

And, Roth noted, that does not just mean a good singing voice. Actors also need to handle very complicated music.

“Sondheim says it bothers him when everyone singing a musical theater number has the same thought at the same time,” Roth explains. “So he writes 8 or 9 different thoughts. It’s much closer to reality.”

It’s also a lot to ask of teenagers. But Staples Players are not typical teenagers.

Like Roth and Long, they love Sondheim’s dark humor. They understand his tragic, broad themes. Like the best actors anywhere, they’ve appreciated the chance to find out where all those characters come from.

To prepare for the show, Roth has scheduled more singing rehearsals than usual. Music director Luke Rosenberg — who talked about doing “Sweeney Todd” since arriving at Staples 3 years ago — has worked hard with the directors to make sure the cast understands exactly what they’re singing.

“With Sondheim, music informs the emotion of a scene,” Roth says. “We’re trying to let that happen.”

He’s given the actors plenty of table work — talking about what happened to them in the “apocalypse,” figuring out the events that led them to where they are in 2049.

Technical director Pete DiFranco and professional set designer (and Players alum) Reid Thompson have built a clever brick structure that evokes the world Roth and Long have envision.

Meanwhile, Priscilla Stampa and Marjorie Watt — Players’ longtime costume designers, who are retiring after this main stage production — have created very innovative, post-acopalyptic costumes.

The cast of "Sweeney Todd" gets ready for opening night. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The cast of “Sweeney Todd” gets ready for opening night. (Photo/Kerry Long)

The best theater challenges, provokes and prods its audience. Stephen Sondheim is a masterful creator of the best theater — and Staples Players are wonderful interpreters of it. The 2049 version of “Sweeney Todd” promises to be a show for the ages.

(“Sweeney Todd” will be produced on Friday and Saturday, March 13, 14, 20 and 21, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 15 at 3 p.m., in the Staples High School auditorium. For tickets and more information, click here.)

Players Carry “Infinite Black Suitcase” To Stage

So many plays are comedies, or at least light. Who wants to leave the theater depressed?

And high school theater is especially known for light fare. Who wants teenagers to think about death?

David Roth and Kerry Long do.

The directors of Staples Players have chosen Infinite Black Suitcase as this spring’s major Black Box production. It’s got its light moments, but it is definitely a serious drama.

Which makes it perfect for Players, the high-school-in-name-only troupe that seems to break boundaries every time the curtain rises.

They’ll do it again May 29, 30, 31 and June 1. Players is the 1st high school group to stage the show — and this is the 1st production ever on the East Coast.

Dan (Jack Bowman, left) is dying of AIDS. Stephen (Joe Badion) is his partner.

Dan (Jack Bowman, left) is dying of AIDS. Stephen (Joe Badion) is his partner. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Roth was searching for a play with a big ensemble, and challenging roles. “This script really spoke to me,” he says. “It’s well written. It demands a lot of the actors. And the stories are fascinating.”

Infinite Black Suitcase is about death and dying in a small Oregon town. A series of vignettes follows a group of occasionally intersecting characters as they face tough, real-life situations: a sick wife. A dying partner. Feuding exes. Suicide.

How do you let go of a loved one when you didn’t get a chance to say goodbye? How do you start dating again after losing a spouse? What happens when you’re at the end of life, but your husband owns a burial spot with his 1st wife?

The responses are very real, very honest. And the teenage cast rises to the occasion.

Katie (Claire Smith) tries to decide who gets custody of her children after she dies.: her current husband (Jacob Leaf, left) or her ex, the children's father (Jack Baylis). (Photo/Kerry Long)

Katie (Claire Smith) must decide who gets custody of her children after she dies: her current husband (Jacob Leaf, left) or her ex, the children’s father (Jack Baylis). (Photo/Kerry Long)

They’re helped not only by Roth and Long, but also playwright EM Lewis. She’s very excited to work with a high school group, and has answered actors’ and directors’ questions about character, plot and setting. She’s opened up to them about her own experiences with death and dying, which frame many of the vignettes.

She says:

I’m very pleased that Staples has chosen to produce my play. Some themes are complex, which might discourage some high schools from tackling it. But people shouldn’t underestimate high school students’ ability to explore and understand emotionally complicated questions of the human heart.

“It’s so great to work on such a new work,” Long says. “And having access to the playwright’s insights is extra special.” Lewis’ voice comes through strongly; her script, Roth says, is “very modern.”

While all this sounds morbid, Infinite Black Suitcase is ultimately very touching, thought-provoking — even humorous. Each character has depth, is involved in a strong (though difficult) relationship, and faces true conflict.

Rehearsals have been filled with discussion. Roth and Long invited a grief specialist to talk with the cast.

Will Haskell (left) and Scott Yarmoff play siblings dealing with their brother's suicide. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Will Haskell (left) and Scott Yarmoff play siblings dealing with their brother’s suicide. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“It’s a very different show,” one actor said. “But I’ve learned a lot. It’s always good to do something different, and get out of our comfort zone.”

Players’ talented seniors are going out with a bang. The younger actors are getting a real-life lesson in theater.

Everyone is learning about death. And life.

(Infinite Black Suitcase will be performed at 7:30 pm on Thursday, May 29; Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31, and 4 pm on Sunday, June 1. It contains mature language. Click here to order tickets.) 

(If your browser does not take you directly to the YouTube trailer, click here.)


“Avenue Q”: Players Prep For Puppet Premiere

When Staples Players produced “A Chorus Line” last year, they knew the choreography would be challenging.

Puppets for “Avenue Q,” by contrast, seemed like child’s play.

But preparations for the spring production — set for next Friday, Saturday and Sunday (March 21, 22 and 23) — proved surprisingly tough.

“Learning how to make the puppets be alive is a lot harder than it looks,” says director David Roth. “They breathe. They have tics. Wherever the human holding the puppet looks, the puppet has to look too. Wherever the puppet moves, the human has to follow. It takes an incredible amount of practice.”

Emily Ressler, Will Haskell and their puppets. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Emily Ressler, Will Haskell and their puppets. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Practice makes perfect. Thanks to Roth and co-director Kerry Long; master puppeteers Rick Lyon (who conceived and designed the puppets for the Tony Award-winning show) and Pam Arciero (who portrays Grundgetta on “Sesame Street”) — and the long, hard work of the high school actors — when the curtain rises, Players will add one more remarkable talent to their amazing 56-year-long history of theatrical accomplishments.

Roth says that the puppet-wielding Players are not the only ones to gain an appreciation of the difficulty of this craft. “Kerry and I realize more than ever before how tough this is,” Roth says. “It’s been great to watch the kids rise to the challenge. Every day, the puppets become more and more believable.”

Players (from left) Bryan Gannon, Will Haskell, Maddy Rozynek, Emily Ressler and Cara McNiff prepare their puppetry. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Players (from left) Bryan Gannon, Will Haskell, Maddy Rozynek, Emily Ressler and Cara McNiff prepare their puppetry. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Learning puppetry was not the only challenge. The winter’s long series of snow days and early dismissals — normally cause for teenage joy — sent shivers down the cast and crew’s spines. Players lost 10 rehearsals — 8 of them involving puppet education — to weather. Add in February vacation, and it’s been very tough sledding.

But the show must go on. Players will — as always — be ready.

Audiences will love “Avenue Q,” Roth predicts. It’s not the R- (X?-)rated Broadway version. This “School Edition” dispenses with 4-letter words. “It’s got all the themes and words you’d find in a PG film or on prime time TV,” the director says.

Nearby, a puppet nods his head.

(“Avenue Q” will be presented on Friday, March 21 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, March 22 at 3 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 23 at 3 p.m. Click here for more information, and to order tickets.)

(If the YouTube trailer above does not open in your browser, click here.)

Puppetry Of The Players

Most high schools “put on” shows. Staples Players stage them.

For “A Chorus Line” last spring, directors David Roth and Kerry Long brought in choreographer (and Staples grad) Bradley Jones, plus Baayork Lee. Both danced in the show on Broadway.

Two years ago, before “Curtains,” Tony Award-winner Rupert Holmes told the cast how he wrote the play.

This year — as Players gear up to present “Avenue Q” — Players are learning all about puppets.

From the pros. Rick Lyon conceived and designed the puppets for the Tony Award-winning show, and originated the roles of Nicky and Trekkie Monster. His company — The Lyon Puppets — built them all.

Pam Arciero — who portrays Oscar the Grouch’s girlfriend, Grundgetta, on “Sesame Street” — is also helping.

The spring production (set for the weekend of March 21-23) brings the happy puppets and cute songs of childhood into the adult world. Human actors — unconcealed — hold the puppets on stage.

Rick Lyon (left) coaches Caroline Didelot and Everett Sussman (right), one of the team of student puppeteers playing Nicky. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Rick Lyon (left) coaches Caroline Didelot and Everett Sussman (right), one of the team of student puppeteers playing Nicky. Scott Yarmoff looks on. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Lyon’s role is to help Staples Players — most of whom had little experience with puppets — feel at ease performing with them. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

“People think of puppets as kids’ entertainment, something fun and funny,” he told Inklings‘ Kacey Hertan. “But learning to puppeteer is as hard as learning to juggle or tap dance or play football. It requires the acquisition of new skills and new disciplines. And new muscles!”

So for hours every day after school, Players work intensively with Lyon, learning skills like lip-synching. A puppet’s mouth cannot move randomly. Every action must have meaning.

And, Lyon notes, “those plastic eyes must be believably focused.”

At the same time, actors are learning the usual blocking, choreography and singing. For some, it’s the toughest challenge they’ve ever faced.

Avenue Q“Avenue Q”‘s style of puppetry is very specific, Lyon says. It’s based on the style Jim Henson created for the TV Muppets, but adapted for stage. The actor — who is also a character — and the puppet must always move together. Neither can upstage the other.

Actors work hard to make their characters believable. With puppets, they must also make something attached to their hand believable too.

Puppeteers are responsible for every move a puppet makes. Lyon compares the craft to playing a musical instrument. “You’re expressing something through a vessel outside yourself, which you control.”

Players have spent years learning how to move their own bodies. Now they have to do the same for something they hold — while also moving their own.

It should be noted that the puppets Players use are not exactly random or basement-variety. They come from a professional puppet company called Swazzle, and are based on Lyon’s original designs for the Broadway puppets.

He is excited about his young puppet proteges. “Everyone is working very hard to make this the best show they can,” Lyon says. “‘Avenue Q’ is fun, funny, and comes from an optimistic place without being corny. The message is that life is hard, lots of things about it suck, but together we can get through it. And things will get better.”

Staples Players’ new puppeteers are already doing very, very well.

“Avenue Q” will be staged on Friday, March 21 (7:30 p.m.), Saturday, March 22 (3 and 7:30 p.m.) and Sunday, March 23 (3 p.m.). For tickets, click here.

Pam Arciero (left) coaches Rachel Corbally on being a right hand to "Nicky," the puppet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Pam Arciero (left) coaches Rachel Corbally on being a right hand to “Nicky,” the puppet. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“Millie” Remembers Matheson, Gilbert

Audiences are raving about Staples Players’ fall production, “Thoroughly Modern Millie.” Co-directors David Roth and Kerry Long have created a wonderful show, filled with talented, tap-dancing performers; clever costumes, and a peppy pit orchestra. Technical directors Peter Barbieri and Dave Seltzer added a stunning set, and sophisticated lighting.

But Roth, Long, Barbieri and Seltzer are quick to note that they — and Players — would not be where they are today without the pioneering contributions of Craig Matheson and Steve Gilbert.

This Saturday (November 23, 5 p.m., following the 2 p.m. “Millie” matinee) they join former Players, family members, the audience, Staples Orphenians and the public in paying tribute to those 2 men.

Craig Matheson (right) and Steven Gilbert.

Craig Matheson (right) and Steven Gilbert.

Matheson — the founder of Staples Players back in 1958 — and Gilbert, who started the Staples Stage and Technical Staff — will be honored with the dedication of a sculpture. “All the World’s a Stage” is installed in Staples’ courtyard, a few feet from the lobby of the auditorium Matheson and Gilbert loved.

The 6-foot-diameter steel sculpture was donated by 1965 graduate and former Player Adam Stolpen. Revealing a medley of changing color, light and pattern, it’s named for the famed monologue from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” which compares life to a play.

“Craig Matheson was loved by so many people who were honored to work with him, and were touched by his wonderful, creative and generous spirit,” Roth says. “Working with Craig was an incredible experience.”

Appropriately, the last Players production Matheson saw was “You Can’t Take It With You,” in May. It was the 1st show he directed for Players, in 1958. Matheson died in August.

Gilbert — who died in the 1970s — was beloved for his ability to create, innovate and inspire backstage crews.

“Steven Gilbert taught me early an artistic professionalism that has served me well. Craig Matheson was the consummate teacher and lifelong mentor,” says Staples ’68 graduate Joan Elizabeth Goodman.

“Their gifts enriched my generation of Players. And their legacy extends to the Staples Players of today and tomorrow.”

(Players representatives hope to locate Steve Gilbert’s former wife and 2 children, to invite them to the ceremony. Email contact information to droth@westport.k12.ct.us.)

(Tickets are not necessary to attend Saturday’s dedication. For tickets to the matinee, or this Friday and Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. shows, click here.)

"All The World's A Stage": the sculpture.

“All the World’s a Stage”: the sculpture.

Staples Players Tap Into “Thoroughly Modern Millie”

Last year, Staples Players wowed audiences with fantastic choreography in “A Chorus Line.” The year before, the Jets and Sharks danced their way through Players’ “West Side Story.”

This fall’s production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie” takes dance to a new level: tap.

The show is unique. Set in the Roaring Twenties, it’s based on a 1967 movie. Opening on Broadway in 2002, “Millie” won 6 Tonys — including Best Musical.

Amanda Horowitz as Millie Dillmount. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Amanda Horowitz as Millie Dillmount. (Photo/Kerry Long)

“It’s the best of both worlds,” says director David Roth. “It’s got crazy, madcap ’20s and ’60s sensibilities, but it’s a modern musical. It’s not dated at all. It’s very contemporary and accessible to modern audiences. And it’s a great show for families.”

It’s also very funny. And the huge amount of tap dancing is a first for former Players actor — now director — Roth.

He hired Abigail Root — a young dance teacher — to join regular choreographer Andrea Metchick.

“It’s been exciting to watch boys and girls learn tap,” Roth says. “That’s a very different style of dance. It’s like playing a percussion instrument — there are lots of different rhythms. But they love it.”

“Millie” also includes plenty of Charleston and flapper dances.

And it’s a huge costume show. Roth estimates at least 200 are displayed throughout the show.

Nick Ribolla as Jimmy  Smith, surrounded by the ladies of the Hotel Priscilla. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Nick Ribolla as Jimmy Smith, surrounded by the ladies of the Hotel Priscilla. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Audiences will see several new faces in leading roles. Ryder Chasin, Nick Ribolla and Jack Baylis are among the first-time stars. The 2 Millies — Amanda Horowitz and Maddy Rozynek — are more familiar to Players fans.

“A Chorus Line” and “West Side Story” showcased Players’ dance talents to thousands of Westporters. “Thoroughly Modern Millie” will tap that choreographic mother lode once again.

(“Thoroughly Modern Millie” opens Friday, November 15. Performances follow on November 16, 22 and 23 — all at 7:30 p.m. — with 2 p.m. matinees on Sunday, November 17 and Saturday, November 23. For ticket information, click here.)
Cara McNiff as Muzzy Van Hossmere. (Photo/Kerry Long)

Cara McNiff as Muzzy Van Hossmere. (Photo/Kerry Long)