It is amazing that two parents with no background in musical theatre produced a family of three talented performing artists.
With one daughter in Emerson College majoring in theatrical arts, and the youngest, Luke, 13, already performing in several shows, is it any wonder that the middle child finds himself the center of attention in the musical production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Zachary Newman, 16, junior, and the cast of Willy Wonka are gearing up for Friday. With technical and dress rehearsals all week, and a shorter performance for some of the younger grades, they will all be ready to go when the curtains go up on Opening Night.
“My sister is probably the reason I got into musical theatre,” Zack admits, his longish hair falling into eyes that sparkle with an impish quality, just perfect for the role he will be playing. “I idolize her. She and I did two shows together. She was Wendy in Peter Pan and I was John. In the other, she was in 42nd Street and I was in the ensemble.”
“They all work hard at theatre. People don't really know what a commitment it is. They practice every day for three months and then there are three shows, and it's over,” Pegeen Newman, his mother, said.
For all the talent though, Newman has plenty of other plans as well. “I think I will always do theatre, but I really want to go to school for engineering,” he said.
Zack is on the math team and he is Vice-President of Tri-M Music Honors Society. “He really enjoys musical theatre, but his first loves are music and math,” Pegeen said, adding that kids who are passionate and love what they are doing, do everything with dedication.
Zack is taking two AP (Advanced Placement) classes in Physics and Calculus, and is hoping to be able to take college level classes at Western Connecticut State University in his senior year. He has had his hands in other things as well. He tutors other students in physics, adding, “It's not hard if you enjoy it,” and continued modestly, “Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I am not a great English student.”
Zack has also taken an interest in the environment. He participated in a fisherman group at Candlewood Lake for two summers. The goal was to catch fish, measure them, weigh them, and throw them back. “We gathered data about the fish, and the health of the ecosystem,” the future Willy Wonka said.
Final words from Zack, “Come see the show. It's a lot of fun, it's very colorful and there will be a lot of candy.”