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Mt. Pleasant Community Theatre Seeks Actors, Angel

The jig is up for Rose Cremonese-Norton , producer, director and choreographer for the Mount Pleasant Community Theatre . With performances scheduled in late July and early August, and a bevy of leading roles to fill, Norton said she must start auditions now for " Curtains ," the musical comedy whodunit she chose for the company's 41st summer stock year.

"And we are short $12,000 to $15,000 to pay for the production, because our angel, Luca Cappelli Jr. , died a few months ago," Cremonese-Norton said. Mounting a musical, she said, costs $35,000 on average. "But I have faith," she said. "I know we'll find angels, I know we'll get contributors and that together with ad sales and ticket sales – hey, we always produce great performances – we'll be fine."

Faith, talent and a modicum of moxie have powered Cremones-Norton and the theater company all these years. A self-styled "local girl," she was running her own Hawthorne, N.Y., dance school in 1968 when she began choreographing the student performances for Westlake High School in nearby Thornwood. "The students who performed in 'West Side Story' had graduated, gone off to college and came back on vacation telling me that they missed doing the shows," she recalled in a recent interview. "They convinced me to start a community theater group, even though I had never done anything like it."

The first rehearsals were held in the basement and backyard of Cremonese-Norton's house, the one her father built for her in Pleasantville, N.Y., and that she's lived in since 1960. Neighbors sat and watched, while the parents of the youngsters in the show brought food so the cast and crew had something to eat. "We were an extended family and the neighborhood's evening entertainment," she said.

John Whearty, the principal of Westlake High School, rescued the nascent theater group with a performance space – the stage in the school auditorium. "I had tried everything and everyone, and he was our last chance," Cremonese-Norton said. "Once we started using that venue – we were doing 'The Boy Friend' – he became the cleanup crew." Today, Whearty, who retired as Westlake's superintendent, is on the community theater's board and his wife, Joan, handles all the lighting, she said.

Cremonese-Norton said she chose "Curtains," a John Kander (music) and Fred Ebb (lyrics) musical, after seeing the show on Broadway and figuring out who owned the royalty rights. "It has so many juicy parts for men and women, great music and wonderful opportunities for dancers," she said. "Just what this extended family needs."

Auditions for "Curtains" start Sunday June 12 at Rose's School of Dance, 338 Elwood Avenue, Hawthorne, N.Y. Casting for dancers and chorus members begins at 3 p.m., leads and supporting roles at 7 p.m. On Monday June 13, auditions for leads and supporting roles start at 7:30 p.m. Call backs are scheduled for Thursday June 16 at 7:30 p.m.

Cremonese-Norton said volunteers are needed for stage and technical crew. "Anyone skilled in painting or construction is welcome, too," she said.

Did you ever work with Rose Cremonese-Norton or Mount Pleasant Community Theatre?

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