Locust Valley students shine with Broadway stars


Locust Valley High School students are jazz handing their way into the world of theater, stepping into the shoes of their favorite “Chicago” characters with gusto, and channeling the glitz and glamor of the popular musical with the help of some of Broadway’s finest.

Students like Ava Ricigliano and Sara Nearenberg will dazzle audiences utilizing the pointers they learned during a workshop on March 13 from Angel Reda and Jeff Gorti, both of whom preform in “Chicago,” on Broadway.

Ricigliano, who is cast as Velma, said despite feeling a little nervous about working with professionals, their welcoming attitudes made the workshop a positive and educational experience, enhancing her understanding of the show and role within it.

“[They] gave me a few pointers about confidence and drawing the audience in with the first sentence,” Ricigliano said. “The first couple of words that I say invites the audience to the world that we are creating.”

The workshop started when AnnMarie Buonaspina, the district’s coordinator of instructional technology and the fine and applied arts, reached out to her friend, Bradley Bosenbeck, who is playing violin in the pit in “Chicago.” When Buonaspina told Bosenbeck students would be performing “Chicago,” he was more than enthusiastic to work with them, and invited Gorti and Reda to join in the workshop.

“I’ve never seen them perform like this. The whole production team is on their A game right now,” Buonaspina said. “This is a once in a lifetime experience and opportunity for them, and they’re so excited for their production next weekend.

The violinist, who has worked with students on past performances like “Shrek” and “Into the Woods” said he’s always been impressed by the performances.

“I know the level of the students and they always bring it. They’re so interested, they ask great questions,” Bosenbeck said. “They really want to learn, they want to get it right, and be authentic in it and bring something of their own. They always rise to the occasion, which is why I keep coming back and why I brought friends this time.”

Sara Nearenberg, who plays Billy and Moana, was interested in delving deeper to develop her characters further. Nearenberg credits Gorti for helping solidify Billy’s demeanor.

“I’ve always wanted to go deeper into my character work,” Nearenberg said. “I’m finally getting to do that. I feel way more confident with the character.”

Reda said working with high school students was a unique experience for her too and appreciated seeing the diverse choreography and interpretations of roles compared to the Broadway performances. The students’ bravery and talent was inspiring, she said, especially compared to her own experience at that age.

And the student’s dedication and readiness to learn allowed her to coach them effectively. Witnessing the students’ performances also rejuvenated Reda’s own perspective on her work.

“I was able to coach them because they had done so much work, they knew their lines they were singing out,” Reda said. “They were very talented and gorgeous singers. It’s also very fulfilling to impart any kind of knowledge that I have.”