Charter Tech actors see their lives in ‘Pippin’

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Sean Wyatt, 17, of Atlantic City plays the character Leading Player during rehearsal.

SOMERS POINT – Students at Charter Tech are anxiously awaiting opening night Friday, March 23, when the curtain rises on their theater production of “Pippin.”

The Stephen Schwartz musical, told by the character Leading Player, is the story of the young prince Pippin and his search for the meaning of life.

Twenty-one students from Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts have been practicing for more than a month on the show, which follows their sold-out performance of “Rent” last year.

“It’s completely different than what we've done in the past. Coming off ‘Rent,’ which is a hard act to follow, they’re embracing it,” director Brian McGuire said at rehearsal Monday, March 19.

“Over the next couple of days through our technical week, the magic of theater is going to take control, and on Friday night we are going to have a show.”

McGuire said the music is a departure from the rock music of last year’s show. However, for the director, vocal music teacher Jean Immler and chorographer Karen Cleighton, the message is the same.

“We teach the ensemble effort of theater with everyone coming together to do their part to make the solid whole,” McGuire said. “That kid in the back – they are just as important as the lead. That’s what we teach.”

Junior Sean Wyatt, 17, of Atlantic City is taking on the role of Leading Player after playing the part of Benny in “Rent.”

The son of Sean E. and Dee-Dee Wyatt, he said he was inspired when he found out he would be playing the same character that Ben Vereen received a Tony Award for in the original Broadway production. He said after learning all the music, he read the script like a book.

“It’s my turn to take it to the next level,” said Wyatt. “I realize there is a similarity with Leading Player and Benny from ‘Rent.’ These two characters have great voices and sing great songs, but at the same time their motives and tactics are just horrible. I would say if I had those things in my nature I wouldn’t like me very much.”

He called himself an “old soul,” saying the music his parents and his grandmother Jannet Amaro played for him led to drawing his inspirations from dancers like Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson.

Cyno Martines of Pleasantville, who plays the title role, said he can see similarities between being a high school senior and his character. Last year, he played Angel in “Rent.”

“As a character I’m more than confused with being a student, warrior, with women and love,” said Martines, who turned 18 on March 18. “I’m in a position with college – everything like that – and Pippin is kind of the way a senior in high school would feel; there are so many things to be done, and you don’t know what to do.”

The son of Sharon and Eddie Rios said he believes one meaning behind the show is that sometimes people who are trying to find themselves just need to realize they are who they are; they never were anyone else.

“My favorite thing has been within these last two rehearsals and seeing the magic of musicals – how everything seems very not organized, and it all just falls into place and the cast comes into their own,” Martines said.

Playing Pippin’s love interest Catherine is Lindsey Evans, 16, of Mays Landing, who said the show has a lot of quirky humor that fits her personality.

“The jokes can easily go over your head,” said the daughter of Joan Evans and Scott Evans. “It's my in my nature – I’m very sarcastic with just about everything that I do. It’s more over the top than I am in real life; my humor is drier than Catherine's.”

She said her favorite aspects of the show are the variety of music and the “really big surprise ending.”

“I really like ‘Love Song.’ It's such a cheesy love song with everything that you can imagine put in there,” Evans said.

This is her third production with the school, and she said everyone has come together through rehearsal.

“They're pretty much everyone I’ve been doing plays with. The family is really, really strong,” Evans said.

Bringing out the youthful spirit of Pippin’s grandmother Berthe is senior Mariah Ritchie, 17, of Wildwood Crest.

“Berthe is someone who enjoys the simple things and likes to have fun. She’s very old but she acts like she’s 17. She’s keeping it real. She tries to tell Pippin not to take life so seriously and for him to know it’s time to start living life,” said Ritchie. “I really like her song ‘No Time At All.’ She’s not afraid to express herself; she can do a split and sings her heart out – she doesn't let her age keep her from doing that.”

She said Schwartz is one of her favorite composers, and the music is one of her favorite aspects of the show.

She is going to pursue musical theater in college, she said, and her mother, Marie Herrone, is one of her biggest inspirations.

“It’s what I want to do in life and everything I am. I love working with this cast; they’re all my friends and I get to hang out with my friends every day,” said Ritchie. “Everyone's done a great job and I’m so happy to work with them. It’s so sad I’m leaving all this, it has really gone by fast.”

Other cast members are David Harrell as Charles; Bobby LeMaire as Theo; Dominick Martino as Lewis; Amanda DeSouza playing Fastrada, Mariah Ritchie as Berthe, featured singers Kory Dunn, Bridgette Walker, Ciera Fazio, Adrianna Hill and Ali Munoz; featured dancers Dallas Brooks, Nicolasa Woodard, Moriah Carter and Deche Jackson; and cast Tiffany Cortese, Autumn Forte, Marin Galia, Jessica Gottlob and Randi Hickey.

If You Go

“Pippin”
8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays March 23, 24, 30 and 31
Charter Tech High School for the Performing Arts
413 New Road, Somers Point
$10 for general seating, $15 premium seating, $20 for orchestra
See www.chartertech.org or call (609) 926-7694, ext. 177.

Photos by Shaun Smith


From left, Dominick Martino of Wildwood in the part of Lewis, David Harrell of Egg Harbor Township as Charles, and Cyno Martines, 18, of Pleasantville playing Pippin act out a scene from “Pippin” during rehearsal Monday.   From left are featured singer Kory Dunn of Pleasantville, Cyno Martines, 18, of Pleasantville playing Pippin, Lindsey Evans, 16, of Mays Landing as Catherine, and Robert LeMaire of Cape May Court House playing Theo.   Mariah Ritchie, 17, of Wildwood Crest, playing Berthe, sings as to Cyno Martines, 18, of Pleasantville, who plays Pippin.   From left are Mariah Ritchie, 17, of Wildwood Crest in the part of Berthe, Robert LeMaire of Cape May Court House as Theo, Cyno Martines, 18, of Pleasantville as Pippin and cast member Tiffany Cortese of Absecon.


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