SouzaKids On Broadway, the Sequel
CENTRAL VALLEY. Aspiring thespians find inspiration in performance workshop, then the bright lights of the musical, 'Beetlejuice.'


Photos by Bob Curtis SouzaKid cast members from Souza’s All Shook Up pose across from the Winter Garden Theater, along with Director Dom Pascullo, Stage Manager Rocky Nardon, and Choreographer Danielle Alifano prior to attending a performance of Beetlejuice, the Musical during the recent Souza trip to NYC.
By Bob Curtis

On a recent big-apple Sunday, the Souza Scholarship for the Performing Arts coordinated a whirlwind Broadway theatrical outing for 35 enthusiastic “SouzaKids,” all players in the upcoming summer Souza production of All Shook Up, the jukebox musical.
The young performers, currently in the middle of a two-month-long rehearsal schedule leading to the show’s end-of-July opening night, reveled in the opportunity to experience a jam-packed day in the theater capitol of the world.
The workshop
First on the tour was a workshop at the Ripley-Grier professional rehearsal studios on Eighth Avenue. Known as a venue where many Broadway shows have perfected their performances, the studios also conduct special seminars for groups of aspiring performers. On Sunday, the SouzaKids were first taught a song from the Broadway production of “Mean Girls,” which many of the youngsters attended during last year’s outing.
After quickly committing the song to memory with the help of Broadway music director Ben Rauhala, Broadway dancer/choreographer Gianna Yanelli, now appearing in “Mean Girls,” trained the students in a dance routine which coordinated with the song. Over the course of an hour or so, the SouzaKids learned the entire scene and performed it several times.
“I think the kids did great," said All Shook Up choreographer and dancer Danielle Alifano, who has been working with the SouzaKids for more than a month. "They acted very professionally and were able to pick up the material quickly. It was such a great opportunity for them to experience how a professional rehearsal is run and get the scoop about auditioning from Broadway professionals.”
The show
After lunch at Gossip Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen, it was a short walk to attend a performance of Broadway’s “Beetlejuice,” a new musical based on the Tim Burton movie of the same name. The show, chosen by the kids, is a fantasy/nightmare-inducing story about two dead homeowners trying to hold onto their former home with the help of a peculiar teenager Lydia Deetz and Beetlejuice, a crafty “delightful demon with a real zest for life.”
Curtain call
The day ended with a somewhat less dramatic bus ride back to the Walmart parking lot, where parents picked up their “Beetlejuiced-up” children after an N.Y.C. day they won’t soon forget.
Offering the SouzaKids this theatrical “intermission” opportunity from their schedule of challenging rehearsals for the show was once again the brainchild of All Shook Up director Dom Pascullo.
“In what has turned into one of my favorite Souza traditions, we once again went to the city to do a Broadway workshop and take in a show. I think it's so great to provide an opportunity for our young students to learn from Broadway professionals, to experience something different, and see a Broadway show,” Pascullo said. “In fact, for some of the youngsters, this is their first time seeing a Broadway show. I love the opportunity for the student actors to get to bond outside of rehearsals and share a rewarding experience.”
The SouzaKids speak
Pascullo casts his performing/auditioning net far and wide to enlist the area’s most talented performing arts students for Souza’s summer shows. What follows are a few thoughts on the Broadway trip from some of our young cast members:
Marissa Mitchell (Monroe-Woodbury, and a 2019 Souza senior award recipient): “As an aspiring Broadway performer, the chance to learn from real people working on Broadway was extremely invaluable for me. Also, getting to bond with cast members in someplace other than our rehearsal space really brought our company together. At the end of it all, we were able to come together and learn from the professionals who help to inspire our craft here at Souza.”
Gwen Aitchison (Goshen): “I had an amazing time. The workshop was fun and engaging and Beetlejuice had us all laughing out loud.”
Blaise Hewlett (Washingtonville): “I enjoyed the 2019 Beetlejuice trip mainly because of the level of professionalism in the workshop, from the warmups, to the learning of the song ‘I See Stars,’ and putting it all together with choreography, to the Q&A at the end was all super fun at the workshop! And the energy the company of the Beetlejuice musical gave off to the audience was inspirational.”
Anya Quinn (Chester): “The trip on Sunday was one of the best experiences I could have asked for! The show was fabulous, the talent from every performer on stage was impeccable. I’m so glad I got to experience it with all of my Souza friends!”