This past weekend, Director Rex Reynolds and his brainchild, the Lodi Theater for Youth, came to Hutchins Street Square to put on four unforgettable performances, two of the cult hit “Grease” and two productions of the lighthearted comedy “Nunsense”.
Alongside Reynolds was a small army of vocal, acting and music instructors, actors, actresses and production crew ready to show Lodi that two, yes two, musicals could in fact be completed this year.
Both plays were truly a great way to spend an evening. The hard work of both casts paid off, sending the audience home with an overall good feeling. What musical stood out? “Nunsense” had to have been the highlight of the two.
With just six cast members, “Nunsense” blew me away. But I shouldn’t have expected any less from the fine young performers that graced the stage, not only at the Square, but also at Delta College’s Tillie Lewis Theater. Three standout performers who were the heart and soul of “Nunsense” were none other than stage veterans Elyse Muscha, Adrienne Reynolds, and Anne Marie Yacopetti, three young ladies that I worked alongside during the first Lodi Theater for Youth production of The Sound of Music. At the time I was a sophomore in high school and these young women were just young girls.
Even then, I could tell that each of them had a knack for the stage and an unbelievable amount of on-stage maturity. These young ladies have been childhood friends and even live blocks from one another. The bond that you can see on stage between all of them shows how great friendship, hard work and determination can make for an even better performance.
Their humor, acting skills and young age makes them a triple threat that the rest of the world needs to watch out for.
Acting comes easy next to the ladies’ other accomplishments. Elyse Muscha has performed for the last six years in hit dance group Troupe Cabana. Adrienne Reynolds should be on her way to American Idol with a voice that she uses to open and sing in concerts. Anne Marie Yacopetti works professionally as a model!
I’ve never encountered more talent in one room as I have every time I see these three in a performance together. It’s no secret that I myself have participated in every aspect of theater and put the emotions and experiences gained into words in past writings. I am no critic, but I do know a great performance when I see one, this was most definitely it.
The three talented sistas are more than good at what they do; they are pros, accomplishing at such a young age what some people hope to accomplish in a lifetime.
The endurance, discipline and knowledge that it takes to be a full-fledged performer is something that not just anyone can do. You have to be a certain type of person to perform and undergo hours of vocal tuning, undergo hours of acting critiques, hours of staging and hours of pressure from numerous individuals who are being paid to bring the play together.
Muscha, Yacopetti and Reynolds showed me that sticking to the grindstone and being determined in life can set you on a never-ending success slide. To have been taught that by three girls that are years younger is one thing, but to have been taught that without them even saying a word to me about ethics, determination or hard work is quite another.
No matter what role these girls have played, they have brought it to life in more ways than one. During The Sound of Music four years ago, Muscha and Yacopetti played, ironically, Nuns that were supposedly three times their real life age. These ladies not only showed that they could pull off a great performance of older people in religious attire, but also that they could do it without the audience thinking they were only kids!
Joining the girls in making “Nunsense” the hilarious performance that it was was Brooke McHugh, Jessie Douglas and Stacie Moniz.
I use the term, triple threat, because each of the girls are not only beautiful, they are also kind, generous and passionate about what they do. And last time I checked, passion can get anyone, anywhere.
There will be times that others get you down and you won’t always be number one, but always remember; the people with the biggest drums don’t always lead the band.
Wade Heath of Lodi is a student at San Joaquin Delta College.