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Local theatre students get star treatment in The Big Apple

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By Nick Schrager

 

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A group of local theatre students spent six days in New York City last week, and while in the Big Apple, they received star treatment.

Theatre director Scott Fattizzi, who used to live in the city, was the unofficial tour guide, and according to some of the students, he was able to open a few doors for them that may have otherwise remained shut. One of those doors led behind the scenes of Good Morning America. Fattizzi had tried to arrange a tour of the show’s studio before the group arrived in New York, but was unable to do so. That didn’t stop him from sweet talking the group in once they arrived.
“Scott sweet talked his way into a lot of things,” said Charlotte Campbell, one of the veteran youth actors of the Central Kentucky Community Theatre.
Campbell said she was surprised to see how much smaller the Good Morning America set actually was, compared to what she had imagined watching on TV. She also said she was not aware there was not a studio audience for the show.
“The only audience is the people watching from the street,” she said.
While at Good Morning America, the young actors experienced one of the numerous brushes with fame on their trip. Actress Cameron Diaz was on the show that day, and Campbell said they got lots of close-up photos.
“She was about four feet away from us,” Campbell added.
When the group wasn’t touring, Broadway shows were the order of the day. Campbell said they saw shows such as “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying,” which featured Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the Harry Potter films, as well as veteran actor John Larroquette.
“It was really exciting seeing him,” Campbell said of Radcliffe. “There was a lot of squealing, I’m ashamed to admit, but he’s Harry Potter, and on the mere fact of that, it was kind of a big deal to us. We saw him get into his car after the show.”
Larroquette went the extra mile, taking time to pose for photos and sign autographs for the group. Fattizzi said he was able to arrange that meeting because he and his wife, Jan, were married by the same man who officiated Larroquette’s wedding.
It seemed celebrities were popping up all along the way for the students, as they met Tom Wopatt following his performance in “Catch Me if You Can.” Wopatt played Luke Duke on the 1980s TV show, “The Dukes of Hazard.”
Jim Belushi also crossed paths with the students. Campbell said the group was going to meet with an actor from a show they had seen earlier in their trip, when they met Belushi in the building. She said he posed for photos and we very nice to them.
Bob Grider, another local theatre student who made the trip, said his personal favorite part of the trip was seeing the show “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” Grider said the elaborate sets were most impressive to him, and he could only imagine performing on that type of stage.
“It just showed us, as good as everything here (in Springfield) is, it shows you how much more is out there,” Grider said. “To see that those kind of things were happening, it was mindblowing. I would love to work with something like that. It would definitely be an experience.”
Grider said seeing the celebrities up close was also impressive to him.
“It’s very much a big thing. You’re thinking, ‘I’ve seen you in movies, and now I’m three feet from you.’ It was kind of a cool thing to see all of those people you’ve been watching for years in TV and movies.”
It wasn’t all about the theatre on this trip to New York. If you’ve visited the Big Apple, like the young actors who made this trip, you know food is a big part of the experience. Grider said he enjoyed some of the authentic Italian food at Buona Note in Little Italy. Campbell agreed, but noted that she also enjoyed Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where the waiters and waitress sang as they served the meal.
Theatre student Catharine Ball of Marion County said she had always wanted to visit New York City, and everything about the trip was exciting for her.
“It was exciting to see the shows, the many different people, Times Square, and even the street vendors was exciting,” she said. “Taking this trip really opened my eyes to how much more is out there than just the beautiful countryside and small town life.”
Fattizzi said the trip was exciting for the students, and he said it was made possible by money raised at bake sales and a car wash, with the remainder being paid by the students. In addition, the CKCT board made the decision to pay for a Master Class, where the students learned from a Broadway performer. Fattizzi said the actor who taught this class performed in a production of “Anything Goes,” which the group saw before attending the class.
Fattizzi said he would like to see this become an event that takes place every three years so all kids in the community theatre will have the opportunity to experience New York City and its theatre district.
“It was such a joy to see all these different kids discovering the city and the culture their own way,” Fattizzi said. “It was an amazing trip.”
Ball agreed, and said she can’t wait to go back, but next time, as a chaperone.