Secaucus’ home-grown theater troupe continues to enjoy its recent rebirth as the town anticipates its next production. CAST (Community Arts Scholarship Theater) enters its third year of entertaining town residents after breaking a decade-and-a-half absence. And according to theater officials, it will do so in grand style, with an ode to the crooners of yesteryear.
“CAST’s ‘Great American Songbook’ will be a blend of songbook standards from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney and others, along with classic Broadway show tunes,” said producer Don Caputo.
The group has called for auditions on Monday and Tuesday, June 10 and 11, from 7 to 10 p.m., at the Senior Center, 101 Centre Ave., for the fall production. Show dates are tentatively set for Nov. 8, 9 and 10.
“Those planning to audition should prepare 16 bars of a song in the songbook style,” Caputo said.
“It’s what I like to call a win-win-win situation.” – Michael Griffo
Gone, but not forgotten
The theater group was formed in the mid-1980s, and performed until the late 1990s, at which point local interest diminished, officials said, and the group disbanded. But in 2011, the mayor approached DeFerrari and Kashuba about resurrecting CAST.
“Mayor Gonnelli dragged us out of retirement,” DeFerrari joked. “Believe me, we were screaming and kicking.”
Aptly enough, the group’s comeback performance was “The Show Must Go On.” The troupe followed that last year with “Good Evening Secaucus,” a production performed al fresco in Buchmuller Park.
DeFerrari confirmed that a scholarship will again be given to a deserving student in theater or fine arts study.
“A $1,500 scholarship, which goes through their guidance counselor, will be awarded,” DeFerrari said. “Last year, it went to a student going into film. We try to give it to someone in the arts, and who is active with them.”
Newly appointed artistic director Michael Griffo, a Secaucus resident and Hoboken native, is excited about the upcoming production. Griffo directed “The Show Must Go On” in 2011.
In preparation for the fall, the group recently met and also presented a performing primer.
“A routine board meeting was held recently to coincide with the start of a fledgling creative workshop series sponsored by CAST,” Caputo said. “The series is designed to provide a personal, interactive learning environment on all aspects of theater — from performance to production — offered free to members. The first all-day workshop topic was on vocal performance, affording singers a better understanding of themselves as performers. Griffo, who is also the in-house director, developed and headed the workshop.”
Griffo said one of the great things about CAST is that it is a learning experience for everyone involved.
“The energy, enthusiasm and professionalism that each CAST member brought to our little stage made for a highly effective and productive afternoon. I learned a lot — it’s what I like to call a win-win-win situation,” he said.
In addition to DeFerrari, Kashuba, Caputo, and Griffo, George Gosen, associate producer Debbie D’Amore, and technical adviser Scott Murphy, constitute CAST’s board.
For more information, email Caputo at email@example.com.
Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.