Ms. Rotolo and cast of fall play ‘steal the show’

Ms. Rotolo and cast of fall play 'steal the show'

Ms. Stefanie Rotolo

Giselle Roman, Performing Arts Editor

Academy’s fall play is an annual event that introduces the theatrical talents and abilities of a new crop of AHN actors.  This year’s play A Cup of Coffee showed off lots of Academy talent, but many of the actors agreed that the true scene-stealer was not one of them, but their director behind the scenes, Ms. Stefanie Rotolo, Academy’s new drama teacher.

Ms. Rotolo came to AHN first as the Dance Team director and moderator, then second this fall as the science substitute for Mrs. Zambrano, and then recently as the new drama teacher; right in the  midst of the cast just learning their lines for the fall play. Luckily, no stranger to the arts, Ms. Rotolo graciously stepped in and – quite literally – saved the show.

“The performing arts have been in my life for numerous years, but for directing, this was my first. My performance experiences were of valuable assistance in guiding the actors to portray their characters. It has also been a pleasure working with Ms. Linda Ruescher, whose expertise and vision will always keep growing.”

The play, written by Preston Sturges in 1931,  is a comedy about a man who enters and wins a contest for a coffee slogan.  Confusion ensues quickly after he finds out he may or may not have been the true winner.

A complicated storyline for a complicated situation for the students in the play one would think, but Michelle Ebrada, one of the actors, said this was not the case.

“At first it was stressful, not knowing what to expect, and it worked out. The actors were all well cast by Mr. Caldwell, giving Ms. Rotolo a steady base of talent.  She was very relaxed, and whenever she needed anything, Caroline de Quesada (stage director) or Ms. Linda helped out.”

“It has truly been enjoyable,” Ms. Rotolo added. “Our parts really relied on one another and we all worked together.”

“It is inspiring to watch each student channel her individual strengths and together, make such a dynamic cast. The play was written for a cast of all men set in the 1930s when women did not “own coffee companies.” The cast did a wonderful job of studying and adjusting their characters, learning the times, and growing together to deliver the story with as much truth as possible.

Senior Jaime O’Brien portrayed the elderly mother and owner of the firm. Her character was narcoleptic and wheelchair bound; and delivered with perfection.  Cast members portrayed characters that brought them into a new element of theater, such as maintaining a foreign accent. As a director, I could not be more proud of the work that they have produced.

Ms. Rotolo feels that putting on a play is no “one-man show. The most difficult part for me was the construction of the set, to be honest.  We worked from scratch,  and with the assistance of Tim Martin, Burt Livingston, and Paul Tucker, designed Baxter’s warehouse.” She included a special appreciation  to Mr. Tim Martin for providing a wonderful lighting set and working to control the sound board; his behind the scenes dedication added to the success of the production.”

Ms. Rotolo’s background in the arts has turned out to be a real asset in her quick evolution from dance coach to drama director, and she feels she has gone full circle from student to teacher.

“Time management was key. And the support system from the girls, the Bayshore Players and Ms. Linda – we sort of balanced each other out.”

When called a Renaissance Woman- someone capable of doing nearly everything on a spectrum – she laughed at that label.  “Really, it’s all about teamwork.”

Ms. Rotolo’s first dramatic success here at AHN reminded the cast of the fall play of how they could stand on their own.

The cast in order of appearance

Julius Snaith (Julia).……………………….…..…Jessica Riddle

Lomax Whortleberry (Laura)……………Meghan Wallace

J. Bloodgood Baxter (Jenny)…………..…….Elise Belluccia

Oliver Baxter (Olivia) …………………….Melanie Huamani

Tulip Jones…………………..……….…..…………..Amanda Bell

Ephraim Baxter (Mrs. Eph)……..………..….Jaime O’Brien

James MacDonald (Jimmy)…..………..…….John Menard

Sign Painter……………………….……..…………….Kat Muyres

Postman…………………….…….…………….…..Essence Grant

Mr. Rasmussen (Mrs.)..….………….………..Cenelia Hoyos

Youth……………………………………….………Michelle Ebrada

Production Stage Manager ………..Caroline de Quesada