Local Talent Picks Up the Tempo
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Young local performing artists took center stage in a production of “Chameleon,” an original musical, at the Emelin Theater July 12 and 13. Tate Robinson of Shore Acres wrote the book, music, and lyrics. The cast included Rye Neck High School alumna and professional actor Nicole Maggio, as well as Rye Neck Middle School students Dillon Nashelsky and Christian Thewes.
“It’s exciting as an actor to have the opportunity to be part of original theater in your own backyard,” said Maggio, who graduated with a BFA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and has an impressive list of stage, television, and voice-over credits to her name. “It’s very fulfilling to be part of the creative process bringing Tate’s new characters to life.”
Robinson, a senior at Brunswick School, remarkably wrote the script, composed the songs, and got “Chameleon” produced within the span of a year. “I’ve always written instrumental pieces, but this time, I buckled down and wrote a full project for the first time,” he noted.
The dramatic theme of the two-part musical revolves around two musician brothers, whose tragic upbringing in a dead-end mining town complicates their interpersonal relationships and informs the rest of their lives.
Once Brunswick School’s Theater and English teacher Seth Potter invited Robinson to showcase parts of “Chameleon” at the school’s performing arts festival, the student was hooked. “This was transformative for me and it gave me some insight into the massive undertaking that goes into producing a show,” admitted the 17-year-old playwright, who plays the piano and sax, and has his own band, Tortuga.
Next, Artistree Performing Arts, a studio in Mamaroneck that offers classes in acting, singing, dance, music, and film, agreed to produce “Chameleon” at the Emelin Theatre. Owners Heather and Peter Capelle got seasoned director John Gray and music director Michael Taglieri on board. After sending a casting notice across the New York area that attracted working actors from, they held rigorous auditions, chemistry reads, and call backs.
Maggio landed the role of Aurora, who adds comic relief to the story and has a knock-out solo number, by singing and dancing to her rendition of “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” As she explained, “Aurora brings a zest for life to the world of the show, but she also has a lot of secrets of her own.”
The cast and crew proceeded to hold intensive rehearsals at Artistree, as well as in studios in Manhattan, where they were entirely immersed in the energy of theater.
“Seeing my songs come together with actors harmonizing with each other is very different than singing them by myself at the piano,” said Robinson. “Once we brought actors in, there was a lot of restructuring. There are so many layers.”
“It has been a really collaborative process with super talented people,” added Maggio. “I have a special place in my heart for stage production, where there’s a live audience and where characters evolve from beginning to end. It was also a lot of fun having people from our local community support us.”
Everyone involved is optimistic about “Chameleon” having legs. “I hope to keep bringing it to the next level,” said Robinson. “I can’t think of a future that doesn’t involve music in some way.”
If the sold-out show’s standing ovation is any indication, this burgeoning playwright and actors will take to the stage once again. Stay tuned.
Playwright Tate Robinson and actor Nicole Maggio