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By Janice Llanes Fabry

Rye Neck High School presents “Damn Yankees!” at their Performing Arts Center March 1-3 at 7 with a special performance on March 3 at 1. The matinee will offer kids in the audience the opportunity to meet the cast and venture behind the scenes after the show.

“It’s a baseball-themed musical with a wonderful story. We’re hoping younger students come to the matinee and get excited about theater,” said Director Scott Harris. “The cast will come out to the lobby afterwards and take kids on a backstage tour. They can see the sets as well as the sound board.”

The musical comedy is about a middle-aged man, Joe Boyd, who loves his home team, the last-place Washington Senators. He makes a deal with the devil so they can beat “those damn Yankees.” A 1955 Tony award-winner, the play was not at all familiar to the 28 cast and 52 crewmembers.

“None of the students had seen the play or the movie because there hasn’t been a revival,” explained Harris. “For me, it has been fun to educate them and have them learn that older shows don’t necessarily equate to dusty, old, and boring.”

This modern retelling of Faust, complete with a baseball dugout and bleachers assembled and painted by the students, has undeniably show stopping numbers. They’re quite familiar to fans of a certain age, but songs like “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” or the upbeat lyrics of “Heart” have a transcendent appeal.

The Theater Arts teacher makes a conscious effort to expose those high school students involved in the musical every year to a full-range of theatrical experiences. Last year, they did a modern musical, “Legally Blonde,” and the year before that they performed a fairy tale, “Into the Woods.”

“My goal this time was to do a classic American musical from the 1940s or 50s,” he said. “I saw ‘Damn Yankees’ as a kid with my father and loved it.”

A new music director, Kathryn Krull, has come on board this year, as well as a new choreographer, Francesca DeAngelo, the owner of New York Dance in Harrison. As it happens in the small world of theater, DeAngelo was Harris’ choreographer back when he was a young actor in a production of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Tarrytown Music Theater 18 years ago.

Among the students responsible for the production are stage manager Tom Bermingham, assistant stage managers Danny Morningstar and Jamie Strazza, technical director Joosep Juhkam, and lighting head Jake Guagnini. The talented ensemble includes senior Joshua Goldin-McCarthy as Joe Boyd, along with juniors Jazzy Cores (Lola), Bennett Taylor (Mr. Applegate/the Devil), and Grace O’Rourke (Meg Boyd).

“We have such talented students,” noted Harris. “If you cast the show right, you’ve done 90 percent of the job and each student’s natural energy goes to this character.”

Tickets are $15 for adults, and $10 for students and children. Visit rnhssm.booktix.com.

CAPTION:

Director Scott Harris and the cast and crew of “Damn Yankees”

 

Next month, Rye High School’s Parsons Street Players presents “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” based on the novel and hit motion picture of the same name. Follow the journey of Elle Woods, a fashion-savvy, UCLA sorority girl who enrolls at Harvard Law, where many don’t take this perky, kind young woman seriously at first. The fun is in watching her pursue her dreams and succeed beyond everyone’s expectations.

The curtain goes up Friday, March 2 at 7:30 and Saturday, March 3 at 2 and 7:30 in the RHS Performing Arts Center.

Admission is $15 for adults, $5 for students, and free for senior citizens.

A group of eighth graders in Xu Yang’s Mandarin class at Rye Middle School had a lesson in patience. Accustomed to the instant response of today’s technology these students used … wait for it … the U.S. Postal Service to write to and hear back from a group of similarly aged students in China. They exchanged letters over the holidays, taking upwards of a month for the letters from rural China to arrive. Ms. Yang was delighted with the quality of skill and prose from students near and far and the students loved the connection to their peers across the globe.

— Annette McLoughlin

 

As part of their curriculum in Japanese Culture, Rye third graders take part in a festive celebration. The children learn calligraphy, play traditional games, and sample Japanese foods, all while wearing authentic kimonos. Milton and Osborn schools held their 17th annual events last month and Midland is scheduled to celebrate theirs in the spring.

— Annette McLoughlin

Not that the Rye City Schools Health and Physical Education Department ever rests on its laurels — or heels —, but in recognition of Heart Health Month, it really stepped up cardio activity in gym classes in February.

At the heart of it, say Director of Athletics Mike Arias and P.E. teacher Jean Romano, “A good physical education is an integral part of a great overall education.”

—Photos by Annette McLoughlin

 

Daisy Steinthal, a junior at Convent of the Sacred Heart, earned the highest possible ACT score of 36. It is quite an achievement, as fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. ACT consists of tests in English, Mathematics, Reading, and Science, each scored on a scale of 1-36.