Northeast Times

The show must go on

The Chalf­ont Mu­sic­al Play­ers theat­er group was shut down in the spring, but the cur­tain wasn’t closed for long. Many former mem­bers are now back on­stage with the Ghost­light Play­ers.

(left) Kelly Trim­mer and Merry Berry prac­tice in front of their peers at Defino’s Dance Stu­dio for the show ” A Chor­us Line”, Fri­day, Septem­ber 9, 2011, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

The Chalf­ont Mu­sic­al Play­ers had a nice de­but, pro­du­cing Wed­ding Sing­er in 2009 and Do Black Pat­ent Leath­er Shoes Really Re­flect Up? last year.

The 2010 show was par­tic­u­larly suc­cess­ful, draw­ing big crowds to six per­form­ances at the 400-seat Devon Theat­er for the Per­form­ing Arts.

“It sold out al­most every night,” said Sean Ri­ley, a mem­ber of the adult per­form­ing arts group.

However, the Devon’s fu­ture is in limbo, and the ad­vis­ory coun­cil at the Chalf­ont Play­ground already sup­ports the Chalf­ont Mu­sic­al Youth Play­ers.

The de­cision was made in April to fold the adult group, but the cur­tain wasn’t closed for long.

“We still had the itch,” Ri­ley said.

Soon, a new group emerged, with many of the former mem­bers com­ing aboard.

Pres­id­ent and founder Ed Flores settled on the name Ghost­light Play­ers.

“It’s a light that con­tin­ues to burn on­stage,” he said in of­fer­ing a loose defin­i­tion of the name. “Theat­er nev­er goes dark. The theat­er light con­tin­ues to shine bright.”

It didn’t take long for the Ghost­light Play­ers to get back on­stage.

Au­di­tions were sched­uled for A Chor­us Line, with 29 of the 40 hope­fuls mak­ing the cut. The cast in­cludes a vo­cal and dance en­semble, with per­formers ran­ging in age from 17 to 40ish. There’s also a nine-piece band.

Flores is the dir­ect­or. Since A Chor­us Line is a show about people, he wanted those au­di­tion­ing to be able to do more than just dance.

“Without be­ing Dr. Phil, we asked them if there was any­thing in the char­ac­ters that they could re­late to and put in­to the show,” he said.

Ri­ley, the com­pany vice pres­id­ent, is the as­sist­ant dir­ect­or and stage man­ager. He and Flores dir­ect the Chalf­ont Mu­sic­al Youth Play­ers, a 16-year-old group that will pro­duce The Wiz­ard of Oz next spring at the Fitzpatrick Ele­ment­ary School.

Nat­alie Mon­ari is the cho­reo­graph­er, while Nick Raspanti is the vo­cal and mu­sic­al dir­ect­or.

Be­sides the former mem­bers, the cast in­cludes new tal­ent.

“Not only is Chalf­ont Play­ers re-form­ing, we have dan­cers and oth­er groups fil­ter­ing in,” said Bill Ar­thur, who plays the chor­us-line dir­ect­or in the up­com­ing show.

The dir­ect­ors be­lieve they have men and wo­men who are “triple threats.” That is, they can act, sing and dance.

“Ghost­light Play­ers has to be syn­onym­ous with qual­ity pro­duc­tions,” Ri­ley said.

The Ghost­light Play­ers can be de­scribed as a group without a home, or one with many homes.

There will be six per­form­ances start­ing next week at the Thomas Holme Ele­ment­ary School.

Re­hears­als have taken place at the John M. Perzel Com­munity Cen­ter, En Pointe dance stu­dio, DeFino II Stu­dio of Dance and Chalf­ont Play­ground.

The new­comers ap­pear to have ad­jus­ted well.

Mary Berry’s back­ground is in bal­let. This will be her first speak­ing and singing role.

“I’m very ex­cited. It’s been an easy trans­ition,” she said.

Justin Kal­nas will be in just his second show since gradu­at­ing from Pauls­boro (N.J.) High School a little more than a dec­ade ago.

“It’s been fun. It’s more or­gan­ized than I re­mem­ber in high school, and our sound is beau­ti­ful,” he said.

There’s a budget for the rights to the show, re­hears­al and per­form­ance space, lights, cos­tumes and the set.

For­tu­nately for the group, sup­port­ers at­ten­ded a beef-and-beer fund-raiser last month and donated items for raffle bas­kets.

“People have come out of the wood­work,” Ri­ley said.

Flores re­calls per­form­ing in a 1991 ver­sion of A Chor­us Line at St. Hubert High School and be­lieves the show will at­tract crowds be­cause of its time­less storyline and the fact that it isn’t of­ten done by com­munity groups.

In ad­di­tion, there are so many dance schools in the area.

“What a way to bring the dance com­munity and theat­er com­munity to­geth­er,” he said.

Every­one is a vo­lun­teer, and the group would like to pro­duce dra­mas, com­edy shows and oth­er mu­sic­als in the fu­ture.

Flores said the show is per­fect for people who want to see a qual­ity pro­duc­tion but don’t want to spend a lot of money or travel to New York or Cen­ter City.

“We’re test­ing the wa­ter to see if it’s com­fort­able enough to take the big plunge,” he said.

Former Chalf­ont Play­ers mem­bers are glad they signed on with Ghost­light Play­ers.

Nicole Me­siano likes the friend­li­ness of the cast.

“It star­ted from scratch, but every­one has done a great job of build­ing up the group,” she said.

Matt Clark, a Fath­er Judge High School seni­or who at 17 is the young­est mem­ber, sees a bright fu­ture for Ghost­light Play­ers.

“We have really great dir­ect­ors, and a lot of us have worked to­geth­er be­fore,” he said. “I think the com­pany will go far.” ••

Re­port­er Tom War­ing can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twar­ing@bsmphilly.com

It’s show time!

The Ghost­light Play­ers will present A Chor­us Line on Sept. 22, 23, 24, 29 and 30 and Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at Thomas Holme Ele­ment­ary School, 9125 Academy Road.

Tick­ets cost $10 for seni­or cit­izens and those age 16 and young­er; $12 for every­one else. There is some ma­ture con­tent.

Tick­ets will be avail­able at the door. To re­serve tick­ets, e-mail ghost­light­play­ers@gmail.com

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You can reach at twaring@bsmphilly.com.

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