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Highwood Theatre presents student productions of musicals ‘Godspell’ and ‘My Fair Lady’

Students rehearse for the iconic musical “Godspell,” one of two Highwood Theatre summer productions. COURTESY PHOTOStudents rehearse for the musical “Godspell,” one of Highwood Theatre's summer productions. COURTESY PHOTO  Summer may be overall slow, but Highwood Theatre is gearing up for two student musical productions.

First, there’s “Godspell” – this year’s Musical Theatre Intensive program for seventh through 12th graders.

The show, with concept and book by John Michael Tebelak and music and new lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, brings vaudevillian elements and diverse musical styles to a contemporary take of the Gospel of St. Matthew.

Henry Gottfried, an actor who appeared in the first national tour of “Bright Star” and the TV production of “Peter Pan Live!” is directing.

“This seemed like a stretch of the muscles,” he said.

It’s also new for Gottfried to be directing kids this age.

“But young actors are pretty gung-ho” he said. “Because this is summer camp, these kids have chosen to be there.”

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Highwood brings student production of "West Side Story" to Siena School

Angel Soriano (left) and West Remy star as Bernardo and Riff, heads of warring gangs in “West Side Story” at Highwood Theatre. COURTESY PHOTOAngel Soriano (left) and West Remy star as Bernardo and Riff, heads of warring gangs in “West Side Story” at Highwood Theatre.  COURTESY PHOTO  Initially, Hellen Cabrera De Oliveira auditioned for The Highwood Theatre’s all-student production of “West Side Story” for reasons other than the show itself.

“What appealed to me is how they wanted to make the production in the round, and how we would have master classes with Broadway performers Nick Blaemire and Cate Caplin [affiliated with Highwood],” said De Oliveira, who previously was a dance captain for “James and the Giant Peach” and a young boy in “All My Sons” at the theater.

However, artistic director Matthew Nicola said all the actors became “completely entranced” by the 1957 musical, arguably one of the most beloved to come to Broadway. Based loosely on Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet,” the show pits the love of two young people from different backgrounds against warring ethnic gangs in New York City, with inevitable tragedy.

Presenting what he calls a “timeless piece” has “always been in the back” of Nicola’s mind. “I was just looking for the right time to do it. It has been an amazing journey.”

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