By Janice Llanes Fabry
Rye Neck High School junior Jazzy Cores is playing the female lead in Disney’s blockbuster “Newsies” at Archbishop Stepinac High School. The all-boy Catholic school in White Plains was one of five high schools in the country, and the only one in New York, chosen to stage a pilot production of the musical before it is released to general licensing.
Girls from surrounding schools were invited to fill the female roles, which is where Cores comes in. “I saw an audition notice on Facebook and immediately started preparing. I watched ‘Newsies’ videos, asked my voice coach for help, and drank a lot of tea.”
Cores’ coach of four years, Gigi Keeffe-Schwartzman, an award-winning singer, prominent voice teacher, and vocal health coach, assisted with lyrics and capturing a song’s emotion. Subsequently, the talented young performer aced her first audition at Stepinac by singing a piece from “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” in which she had played the title role at the Rye Neck Middle School’s production a few years ago. She also tapped her way into the heart of the theater director with a jazzy sequence at the unexpected dance audition the same day.
Two days later, Cores received a call back notice that she was one of six actors returning for a second audition. A week later, she found out she had landed the role.
“It was very surreal. I opened the email from Stepinac with my friends after school and I was so happy, I was practically in tears,” she remarked. “The role of Katherine Plumber is a dream role of mine. The character’s songs are upbeat and funny and I love her because she’s determined to be a reporter in a day and age when women weren’t given those opportunities.”
Cores, herself, is as tenacious and plucky as the character she will play. Not only did she sing and dance around the house as a child, her father called her Jazzy, a nickname for Jasmine, which turned out to be a pretty catchy stage name.
She caught the acting bug early on when her parents took her to kid-friendly Broadway musicals for her birthday every year. During intermission at a production of “Peter Pan” at the Westchester Broadway Dinner Theater, an audition notice in the playbill caught her eye. At age 9, she tried out and was cast in “Big River” with Lighthouse Youth Theatre, and has been on stage ever since.
She won a National Youth Theatre Award for her portrayal of Mille. She played the sassy Serena doing the “bend and snap” in Rye Neck High School’s production of “Legally Blonde,” and the hopeful and resolute Cinderella in the school’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods” last year. Cores also won “Rye’s Got Talent” contest in 2015 for singing “Little Mermaid’s” “Part of Your World.”
<“Newsies” will be performed at Stepinac’s Major Bowes Auditorium on December 1, 2, 8, and 9 at 7:30, and December 9 and 10 at 2. Tickets are $22 for adults, $18 for seniors and children. For more information, visit stepinac.org or call 946-4800.>
Rye Neck junior Jazzy Cores