A fully youth-directed, acted, and produced musical! Last summer, Max Rodriguez, a 14-year old 8th grader from William Annin Middle School in Basking Ridge NJ, had a vision – to bring together kids of all age groups into one production. He had worked with many talented performers, some of which had moved on to high school, and noticed how few opportunities there are for kids of different age brackets to perform together.
When he was 4 years old, Max saw his first musical on Broadway – MARY POPPINS. That day, he fell in love with theater. He has been performing ever since. He has been in numerous community theater productions with Mayo Performing Arts Center, Trilogy Repertory and JAM Theater Company, as well as many local school performances. Throughout, he has studied theater and voice at MPAC, as well as Broadway Workshops in NYC. His passion for theater is certainly in performing, but also encompasses all aspects of theater. For this production, his goal was to direct and showcase the amazing talent in his township’s youth.
Max obtained the licensing rights from MTI, negotiated sets, professional costumes, and a venue, all on his own. He took money he had been saving since he was practically born, and used it for this dream.
MARY POPPINS, the youth-only production of this full Broadway musical was born. The cast consists of kids from the the ages of 10 to 17. They have been rehearsing for over 3 months at the community center or at Max’s house. The role of Mary will be played by Karenna Breslow, a Sophomore, while Bert will be played by Chance Friedman, a Junior, both at Ridge High School. Every single actor in the cast is dedicated and highly talented, and has embraced his or her role with passion. The crew also consists of kids from the three age groups (elementary to high school). Max is SO proud of this cast and crew, he can’t wait to share this magical musical on performance day.
In his own words, Max feels that “this musical is different from the movie because it keeps all of the songs and story lines, but it adds a certain dimension and depth. It is not just about this amazing nanny that does so many magical things, but a family that needs a little bit of help, or perhaps “a spoonful of sugar”, to come together as one, and that is exactly what Max feels has happened with him and every single person involved in this production. He feels that everyone needs a bit of theater in their life.”
The Basking Ridge Youth production of Mary Poppins will be performed at the Raritan Valley Community College – Nath Theater, 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg, NJ, on January 28th at 4:30pm. For tickets or more information, please visit http://www.rvccarts.org or call the box office at (908) 725-3420.
top row left to right = Sophie Kramer, Anastasia Condolon, Kareen Alvarez, Chris Kirkwood, Hannah Flatley, Kelly Cimaglia, Karenna Breslow, Chance Friedman, Harry Hess, Oscar Grob, Morgan Connell, Matthew Leopold, Andrew Chiafullo, Morgan Beatty.
bottom row left to right = Nathan Schwed, Katie Maratea, Amelia Lothrop, Libby Schmitt, Josie Dennis, Ethan Conklin, Christine Haggard, Amanda Cudia, and Max Rodriguez (director)
Not pictured = Gavin Turner
Theater/Organization Basking Ridge Youth
Theater/Organization Website: http://www.rvccarts.org
Theater/Organization Address: Raritan Valley Community College – Nath Theater 118 Lamington Road Branchburg, New Jersey 08876 (Map It)
Theater/Organization Phone: (908) 725-3420