Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Theater comes alive with 'Living Art'

Cranston Herald
August 11, 2010
All text and photos by Jen Cowart

TAKING THE SPOTLIGHT: Singing and dancing was a big part of this year’s “A Jungle Book” performance.

After five weeks of auditions, memorizing lines, learning songs and making new friends, the cast and crew of this summer’s Living Art Theatricks theater group performed another successful show this year.

There were students from all over Cranston performing the adaptation of Disney’s “A Jungle Book.” The students ranged in age from 5 through 17 years, according to the show’s producer, Jeff Buco.

“We had a lot of new kids this year and younger kids as well,” said Buco.

The group was started six years ago in order to bring theater to the children of Cranston by Buco and the show’s director, Michael Miele.

“Our goal was not just to put on a show and learn the fundamentals of theater, but to create friendships and a family atmosphere along the way. It’s more about the journey than the perfect show,” said Miele.

First-time performer, 10-year-old Samantha Mastrati enjoyed the journey very much.

“It’s pretty fun,” she said. “It’s kind of hard to memorize all the lines. I have a lot of lines; not as much as Mowgli, but a good amount.”

Mastrati played Buzzy the Vulture.

Two different actresses played Mowgli in this show. Hannah Sasa, a second grader at Hope Highlands, played Baby Mowgli, while Jayna McCarvill played the grown-up version.

"This was my first time in a show,” said Sasa. “It’s fun because you try out, and you get a surprise part, and you get to have fun with it.”

Sasa agreed with Mastrati that the hardest part of being in the show was memorizing all of the lines.

Sasa’s brother, Jordan, is heading into the ninth grade at Hendricken in the fall and has been in the Living Art Theatricks shows for the past three years as an actor. He transitioned this year into the more technical aspects of the show, working on the crew.

“This was fun. It really gives you a behind-the-scenes look at how you run the show,” he said.

Alex Sparks, a Park View student, played King Louie in the performance. He was a first-time performer as well.

“It’s really very fun, and you get to make new friends,” he said. “You get to play someone you can’t be in real life.”

The thrill of being in a stage performance in front of a live audience was expressed by many of the actors and actresses.

Robert Susi, an Oak Lawn fifth grader, was excited by being on stage.

“We get to be on stage in front of all the people, and they clap for you,” he said.

Susi has an interest in writing his own plays and has been working on several over the past few months.

Kaylee Dorr, age 10, explained some of the more technical, behind-the-scenes details that one might not think of when watching the show.

"The hardest part is getting in and out of costume,” she said.

Dorr plays an elephant and enjoyed all of the singing and dancing the best.

The performances were last weekend at Hope Highlands Elementary School, and the show seemingly went off without a hitch, although according to Miele, that’s not all that matters.

“It’s not about a perfect show or how it ends, but rather the friendships you make while getting there.”

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