Kittatinny Players build amphitheater to tell a good story

Newton. Covid-19 inspired the Players to build an outdoor venue. In advance of the musical “Godspell: The Revival,” to be performed May 20-22, the Kittatinny Players will hold their “Evening Under the Stars” fundraiser at Andre’s Lakeside Dining.

Newton /
| 07 May 2021 | 02:11

Godspell means “good story,” and it’s the musical selected to underscore everything the Kittatinny Players have worked for through the pandemic. “Godspell: The Revival” is, truly, a good story.

Music had the most restrictions. “Creative arts, in particular music, have been extremely affected during the pandemic,” said Brian Bosworth, principal at Kittatinny Regional High School. “So many of the restrictions, in terms of social distancing, playing instruments, performing, directly impact these disciplines. Our music department has been phenomenal in developing ways to allow our students to succeed. Seeing our students perform outdoors around our beautiful campus has been wonderful.”

A small group of jazz players rehearsed at the pavilion at Hampton Park adjacent to the high school. Through the heat and cold, the marching band and color guard practiced for their season. In the end, they regaled the fans with their effervescent spirit.

“It was fun despite the changes, wearing masks and standing six feet apart,” said junior Nora O’Keefe, a member of the color guard. “It was great to have a season even though it was shorter and just being part of the marching band family. It was worth all the little inconveniences.”

Fall Drama practiced under a tent outside the cafeteria. In winter, the Players made their first movie.

‘If you build it’

Since holding their spring musical indoors would not allow for much of an audience, the Players came up with a plan. Staff, parents, and community members came together to build a wooden amphitheater atop the bluff facing the field hockey field.

“The amphitheater came about for one simple reason: Covid,” said Roy Chiariello, the “Godspell” director.

“It was important to me to make sure these kids, especially our seniors, get the largest, live audience possible,” he said. “With tremendous help from The Kittatinny Players Booster Club and our amazing parents, the labor and funds came together. Now our goal is ‘If you build it, they will come’ from the movie ‘Field of Dreams.’ The kids are knocking it out of the park.”

The audience will be asked to practice social distancing and wear a mask at all times, like the Players do. On Monday, Gov. Murphy raised outdoor gathering limits from 200 to 500.

“The kids have truly stepped up, understand what is at stake, know the work involved in performing up to our standards, so they all just got to work,” said Chiariello.

Freshman Colin Webb is playing the role of an additional disciple. “The Kittanniny Players are doing great Covid-wise,” he said. “We always have our masks on, and we take breaks so they can clean the room we use. I am happy they were able to do this, and the outdoor amphitheater is amazing. I am glad that they found such a creative way for us to preform.”

“Godspell” was selected was because there are no leads. There are 13 actors, times two for the two separate casts, Chiariello said. The kids have “flourished being truly equal,” he said.

The Boosters

The Kittatinny Players Booster Club is a nonprofit made up of nine driven parents who meet once a month to address the needs of the theater program, said co-chair Angelynn Rittweger. The group is hosting “An Evening Under the Stars” at Andre’s Lakeside Dining on May 18. It will feature “Messages from Heaven” with spiritual medium Catherine McCall, a silent auction, live music and dinner. Proceeds will support the “Godspell” production as well as the Scholarship Fund, said co-chair Courtney Ricard.

“Nothing stops these kids,” said Cheryl Williver, a Players parent. “From practicing under a tent with masks on, in inclement weather for Fall Drama, to making the first-ever Players movie, they made it happen. Then, rehearsing for ‘Godspell’ beginning in winter, they’ve been practicing six days a week, just as always. Both casts are going to bring the audiences to their feet.”

Essential information
What: “Godspell: The Revival” by the Kittatinny Players
When: May 20, 21, and 22
Where: New Kittatinny Regional High School amphitheater
What: “An Evening Under the Stars” fundraiser for the Kittatinny Players’ production of “Godspell: The Revival”
When: 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18
Where: Andre’s Lakeside Dining, 112 Tomahawk Trail, Sparta. It will feature spiritual medium Catherine McCall, a silent auction, live music, and dinner.
“Nothing stops these kids. From practicing under a tent, with masks on, in inclement weather for Fall Drama, to making the first-ever Players Movie, they made it happen.” Cheryl Williver