ACIT students wowed by Jersey Shore Pops

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Charlie Pritchard /  ACIT performing arts academy freshmen Laura Higbee, 15 of Egg Harbor Township, Natalie Caprio, 15 of Brigantine, Dariel Santos, 14 from Pleasantville, Erin Gados, 14 of Estell Manor and Tessa Carty, 14 from Buena Vista Township performed with the orchestra in front of their fellow students. Charlie Pritchard / ACIT performing arts academy freshmen Laura Higbee, 15 of Egg Harbor Township, Natalie Caprio, 15 of Brigantine, Dariel Santos, 14 from Pleasantville, Erin Gados, 14 of Estell Manor and Tessa Carty, 14 from Buena Vista Township performed with the orchestra in front of their fellow students. HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – It is unlikely that five students who enrolled at the Atlantic County Institute of Technology (ACIT) this year expected to be performing on stage with the Jersey Shore Pops Orchestra in front of their classmates.

But that is exactly what happened at the school’s performing arts center Thursday, Jan. 9 when they played various percussion instruments with the group as they performed the classic “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” in front of the enthusiastic student body that clapped along.

“It was kind of awkward and strange,” said Natalie Caprio, 15 of Brigantine of the experience. She plans to major in drama in the school’s new performing arts academy.

Tessa Carty, 14 of Buena Vista Township who plans to study vocals added, “It was fun. Our fellow students encouraged us.”

The orchestra appeared at the school to inspire students there to consider careers in the performing arts, and to promote an upcoming concert scheduled during the summer. The orchestra plans to appear there on Sunday, July 13 for a performance that will be open to the public.

The school’s performing arts center was completed in 2012 as part of a major building expansion program at the school, formerly known as Atlantic County Vo-Tech. While it has mainly been used for school activities, such as the past two graduation ceremonies, the school’s theater technical director Ed Brittin is excited about the prospects for the facility in the future.

This was the first year for the new academy, which had 23 students enrolled in the program.

The curriculum introduces participants to all aspects of theater in the freshman year, including drama, vocal music, dance and technical aspects such as set design, sound, lights and stage preparation. Students then select which area they want to pursue for their remaining three years.

Plans call for 35 students to be accepted into the program for the 2014-’15 school year.

Brittin, who was employed in the industry for 18 years at Trump Plaza, had his students involved in preparation for the concert.

“I am so glad to see them here,” he said, referring to Jersey Shore Pops. “I wanted the students to see the set-up for an actual concert and they were all involved in doing the stage work.”

In addition to “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” the group performed numerous other songs for the students. Director Linda Gentille, known as the “Piano Princess” for her amazing prowess on that instrument, got the students actively involved in the “William Tell Overture,” perhaps more famous as the theme for the “Lone Ranger” radio and TV show. On her cue she had the boys in the audience call out. “Hi Ho Silver” and the girls following up with, “Awayyyyyyyyyyy”.

Orchestra member Clifford Buggs started playing trumpet in the fifth grade. During the show at ACIT, he wowed the students with his solo on the classic, “I Can’t Get Started.”

The showstopper however was violinist Susan Elsayed. She performed an energetic medley of songs from “Fiddler on the Roof” as she darted back and forth on the stage and then running into the audience to exhibit her talent in front of the students. The music Brigantine teacher had numerous former pupils in the audience.

Freshman Brittany McHenry was one of her protégées in the audience.

“I played flute when she taught me,” she exclaimed. “I enjoyed the show and look forward to other performances.

The orchestra closed with a rousing version of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” that showcased Gentille’s talent on the keyboard and led to an ovation by the students in appreciation of the orchestra’s performance.

 

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Charlie Pritchard / ACIT students were anxious to speak to violinist Susan Elsayed following the performance in the school’s performing arts center. Charlie Pritchard / ACIT students were anxious to speak to violinist Susan Elsayed following the performance in the school’s performing arts center.

 

 

 


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