Sisters Yasmeen and Nadene Abdel Kader have appeared in off-Broadway plays in New York, but nothing major in their hometown of North Bergen. That’s why they showed up to the lower level concert hall at the North Bergen library on Tuesday.
“I usually do small [plays] like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ or ‘The Little Mermaid,’ ” said Nadene, who is 10. “I like to sing and I really like to act ‘cause it’s actually fun.”
The North Bergen Public Library held auditions Tuesday and Wednesday for their summer musical, “Fame Jr.,” which is only open to North Bergen and Guttenberg residents ages 10 to 18. “Fame Jr.” follows students who progress through four years of intense artistic and academic training. It’s similar to the movie musical “Fame,” except the kids are younger. The musical will highlight the issues that face many youths today.
“It’s a variety of dancing and singing and that’s what they [students] want. They go through what’s written in the script.” - Melissa Welz
The first day of auditions attracted more than 60 kids.
More sister acts
At the auditions, sisterly companionship was also displayed between Melissa Welz, a music teacher at Horace Mann School, and Krista Welz, who’s in charge of children’s literature at the library. Both women helped set up the auditions, and Melissa will be a director of the play.
The panel of judges ranged from teachers to an acting teacher from New York.
Many of the students who came to audition had experience in dancing, singing, or playing an instrument. Some had experience in more than one talent. Genesis Cevallos, 11, said she had five years of dance experience and also plays the saxophone.
Tiffanie Leon-Ryan, 15, plays guitar and sings. Sophia Abraham, 11, has dance experience and sings in the choir at Kennedy School.
The auditions ranged from pop to soulful performances.
Waiting for their time to shine
The kids were excited to audition.
“I’ve never really done anything with my town, acting, so this is a really great opportunity,” said Yasmeen Abdel Kader. “Aside from what I do in New York, off Broadway plays... I always loved acting, it’s like you get to be somebody you’re not.”
“I’ve been singing since I was nine,” said Paula Montesno, 18, number 25 on the list for auditions. “I’ve been playing the clarinet since I was 9 too so I’m really music oriented. Last year I was in a play called ‘The Three Musketeers.’ I just love performing... I’m going to be [singing] ‘Love’ by Nat King Cole.”
She added, “[The library] offers a lot of things that people don’t really notice, and I didn’t notice until I started tutoring and coming every week. I think our library’s pretty awesome. We’re getting our tax dollars’ worth.”
Montesno said that they chose the right person in picking Melissa Welz. She said Welz is assertive music-wise, yet is very welcoming.
Alexander Arango waited exuberantly outside the door as he watched his daughter Christi perform. Christi has participated in ballet and cheerleading. Arango joked that Christi sings at home all day. One of the judges told her she has a great “R&B voice.”
After the first day of auditions, Melissa Welz said that the kids were “phenomenal!” The cast lists will be distributed on Monday in schools and people who are chosen will be emailed or called directly.
Rehearsals begin next week, according to Welz.
Performances are Aug. 24 and 25 at 7 p.m.
Fame Jr. will be directed by Melissa Welz and Paula Ribeiro. Music Direction will be done by Melissa Welz with choreography by Arlene Ng. For any further information contact: email@example.com.
Vanessa Cruz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org