My friend and classmate at Hunter College, Amanda Rose Benjamin, got in touch with me about PXP Magazine and the Staten Island theatre company she's involved with, In The Wings. But rather than do an interview, we at PXP wanted to hear open ended responses from the members themselves (both new and old) to get a glimpse into who they are, what they do, and their creative processes. Below are their responses:
Amanda Rose Benjamin
I started working with In The Wings in the summer of 2013. I had seen a few of their previous productions and when they announced they were doing Les Miserables, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. So I volunteered my time as a spot light operator for the production. I figured it would be a great way to meet some new people and experience an element of theatre production new to me. Now, I’m proud to say I’m about to perform in my fifth production with this company in Gypsy. I’ve previously been featured in Cabaret, Shrek, Wizard of Oz, and Legally Blonde.
The thing I love about working with this company is that every show is different. Although the same familiar faces are around, there is always room for new members. When I first joined as a member of the crew, I was immediately greeted by people who genuinely wanted to get to know me, not just by the job I was doing. It’s cliché to say that this company is a family, but in all honesty it is. I cannot count how many friendships I have formed over the past two years from being in shows with In The Wings.
Every show we’ve done the past two years has presented challenges: giant set changes, fast and difficult choreography (specifically... jump roping), complex musical scores, singing and dancing extremely fast at the same time, etc. Despite these challenges, the show is always ready by opening night.
The reception from the Staten Island community is always wonderful. It is great to see that the audiences we perform for share our enthusiasm for the company. I take time out of my commute to advertise our shows at the Staten Island ferry terminals. And every time I’m there, someone approaches me saying they saw one of our previous productions and mentions how they cannot wait for the next one. I’ve truly enjoyed the past two years I’ve been with In The Wings and I look forward to what the future has in store.
Maria Elena Rumayor
I am playing Louise in the upcoming production of Gypsy with In The Wings. I've been performing with In The Wings since 2010, when it began.
I first heard of the company when I was 16 and my high school director Tanya Glassman told me she would be directing Miss Saigon that summer. That was my first time in a community theatre group.
In The Wings has been a second home for me. When I'm not in school and involved with productions there, I am at Snug Harbor either performing or selling tickets at the box office. One of my favorite things about being part of In The Wings is that I have worked with actors of all ages. Everyone has something to offer. I always come out of each rehearsal process with new friends, mentors and supporters. This rings true in particular with the co-owners of the company, Tanya and Adam Glassman. The two have taken me under their wings (pun-intended) and given me such wonderful opportunities to grow as a performer and person.
Now, at 22 years old, I am still an active player and supporter of In The Wings. I want passionate performers to have what I had: a place to gain confidence and build their craft in a nurturing environment. I am surrounded by dedicated actors who want to be here and who care as much as I do.
That's what makes community theatre special.
I joined In The Wings this past summer for their production of Legally Blonde, as a dancer. The people here are so welcoming and it’s like one big family. Everyone is so professional and easy to get along with. Legally Blonde was my first show with In The Wings and watching the show come together was incredible. In the end, everyone’s hard work paid off. Now I am in their production of Gypsy, my second show with In The Wings. I love being at rehearsals. This is truly a place where I can express myself.
I love being a part of this production company no matter what show they do. Community theatre is so important and this company gives Staten Islanders the opportunity to enjoy great theatre close by. Each In The Wings show has a message and a meaning. Showing that to people helps them see how performing truly affects people for the better. I love working with this company.
I've been a member of In The Wings for five seasons. I am currently preparing to play Tulsa in Gypsy, which will be my ninth show with the company.
The company is a great bonding experience for members of Staten Island's theater community. Over the last couple of years, the group has attracted an awesome crowd of talented people. I really feel that In the Wings provides the highest caliber community theater experience you can find on Staten Island. This is evident by the types of shows they decide to put on, the people that work on them, and the finished product. I've learned so much from being a part of this company and have definitely developed as a performer through the work I've done in these shows.
Gypsy is my first show with In The Wings. Although I haven’t been involved in the shows directly, I have attended quite a few of the productions, such as Les Miserables and The Wizard of Oz. I am very excited.
The rehearsals are a lot of fun and very productive. I was welcomed into the company with open arms. It was easy to get situated with everyone, especially, since I was a good friend with most of the cast prior to the show. The cast is very talented and very serious about bringing quality theatre to Staten Island. Seeing their previous final products in the past years really drew my interest to them. This company has pushed me to do things I’ve never done before. I’m very excited to make my debut with this company. They make realize how much I love to perform every day.