In a world of email scandals, relentless brutality, global agitation, and near-impending doom, people still aspire. Lisa Beth Vettoso must surely be counted as one of those people. With over twenty years of experience in the arts, Vettoso has channeled her energy into creating the Aspire Performing Arts Company based out of Wayne, New Jersey.
Her mission: provide youth with the tools and space necessary to shine. And what stars she has groomed.
I was fortunate to see Aspire’s production of The Wedding Singer on opening night. Having not seen the now-classic Adam Sandler movie, I felt as though I was walking into a trap — that I would somehow miss certain cues or otherwise bludgeon my way through the performance.
This was not the case. The actors and actresses soared within the Barn Theatre of Montville. Their voices rang with a passion that I had not anticipated. They tackled the themes of the story — love, heartbreak, and emotional turbulence — with grit and enthusiasm. Their performances are a testament to the dedication to art that Ms. Vettoso has pursued. The phrase “exuberance of youth” comes readily to mind when reflecting upon her troupe.
George Massood is cast as Robbie Hart, who has been left standing cold at the altar and must collect himself emotionally in the hopes of finding true love. His performance was nothing short of excellent, and the zeal he brings to the stage is worthy of note, as is his singing voice. Casey Gorab plays Julia, a waitress who finds herself engaged to an unfaithful man. Her voice is something so pure and radiant that one who watches her perform will undoubtedly find himself staring, mouth agape in wonder. The same effect can be felt when watching Claire DeBenedetto as she plays Holly, Julia’s madcap cousin, with charisma that is instantly infectious. These and all other members of the cast were like a well-oiled, perfectly tuned machine. It was a pleasure to see their efforts blossom on stage. Alternative leads include Courtney Bulger and Jillian Cetrulo, who bring equal excitement and animation to the play.
Certain moments of the production left me shaken. How can one so young speak so truly to the effect of falling in love? How can a teenager dance to Thriller better than me? This, amid abundant moments of true hilarity and musical delight, created an experience of genuine enchantment that I have not felt in some time, and will not soon forget.
If you have the opportunity, see a performance by Ms. Vettoso and her production team. Lose yourself in the enthusiasm of youth and the excitement of theater on a small scale. Forget about the world around you and immerse yourself in the joy of her work, and the work of young people shining on the stage. There is always a time for Broadway, but make time to aspire.
The Barn Theatre is located at 32 Skyline Drive, Montville, NJ. For more information on Aspire Performing Arts Company visit: http://www.aspirepac.com