Rocky Fork Enterprise

Star Players Theatre debuts with Les Miz

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Star Players Theatre will mark its premiere show with the musical, Les Miserables, an adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel of the same name, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at Gahanna West Middle School, 350 N. Stygler Road.

Performances also are scheduled for 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at the school.

Andi Malinger, director of Les Miserables and Star Players Theatre, said talent in the show is "unbelievable."

"If you could hand-pick a cast, I would pick this cast," Malinger said. "They sound unbelievable."

Cast members represent central Ohio communities, including Gahanna, Hilliard, Pickerington, Powell, Sunbury and Westerville.

Malinger said the musical theater school called Star Performance Academy, 1701 Eastgate Parkway, was founded by Gahanna resident Tanya Shtein three years ago as a place where youth could learn musical theater skills with no pressure to compete.

It offers classes in voice, instruments, acting and dancing.

"The age group goes from 6 to 14 years old," Malinger said.

"What she saw happening was wonderful families involved with the school. It's a place to start your love of theater, singing, dancing and acting.

"After a year or so, our students ventured out to audition for other shows at other community organizations."

Because the academy sought to include more adult performers, Shtein created Star Players Theatre as a sister group for the academy, with the hopes of offering both adult and child members of the Columbus and Gahanna communities an opportunity to experience theater.

Sue Laney, academy vocal and piano teacher and artistic director and music director of Les Miserables, said students learn the basics in singing and vocal production, styles of dance used in musical theater and acting and auditioning skills to foster the development of becoming triple-threat performers.

The school calls this its "Be3 program," short for "be a singer, be a dancer, be an actor." Additionally, the school offers a number of special programs and camps geared to younger actors.

Malinger said a cost is involved for lessons at the academy, but there is no charge to participate in Star Players Theatre.

"This is our first production," she said. "We had 70 auditions and 50 form our cast. We're ecstatic."

Gahanna Lincoln High School students in the Les Miserables cast are Brooke Nerderman, Celina Penn, Morgan Pennington and Paula Shtein.

Actors who were/are students in Star Performance Academy or past productions by Star Performance Academy are Kate Burch, Hayley Dougherty, Corinne Gorgas, Will Gorgas, Mitchell Kallner, Grace Malinger, Natalie Petrusky, Zachary Seeman, Jadyn Sellars, Paula Shtein, Meander Wank and Sydney Young.

The cast also includes students from Ohio State and Capital universities.

Tickets for the production cost $15 for general admission and can be purchased online at ticketriver.com/event/8462-les-miserables. They also will be available at the door.

For more information about Les Miserables or about how to get involved in Star Performance Academy and its activities, visit starperformanceacademy.org, email kids@starperformanceacademy.org or call 614-501-STAR (7827).

Information about the academy can also be found on Facebook by searching for Star Performance Academy.

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