Tag Archives: bob navis

In the spotlight: NWT alumnus Daniel Caraballo

Daniel Caraballo

Danny Caraballo

Danny Caraballo first came to Near West Theatre’s stage in Merrily We Roll Along (2006) while a student at St. Ignatius High School. He earned a B.F.A. in musical theater from Kent State University in 2012 and now performs professionally. His credits include the national tour of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story (Richie Valens), and, this past summer, Celtic Fyre (The Inkeeper, who is the narrator and lead singer) at Busch Gardens, Virginia. We recently asked him three questions:

1. What role did Near West Theatre play in your life as a young person?

I have always considered NWT as the birthplace of my craft. Bob Navis and Stephanie Morrison Hrbek opened my eyes to a form of artistry so fulfilling and wholesome back in 2006. I couldn’t get enough of each cast’s comaraderie and the lifelong friends that would follow. Growing up in Cleveland’s inner city, NWT lit a passion and a flame that still burns bright and helps drive me here in New York City.

2. Now that you’re a professional actor, what’s something that sticks with you even now from those days?

Danny Caraballo (r.) as Bernardo, with Max Kantor as Tony, in NWT's West Side Story (2008).

Danny Caraballo (r.) as Bernardo, with Max Kantor as Tony, in West Side Story at NWT (2008).

Since moving to The City and even while fine-tuning my craft at Kent State, NWT’s process has stayed as my catalyst for every show I’m a part of. I learned to open my heart and allow my peers as well as the audience take the journey with me. I can rock out or show my vulnerability no matter what the stage because NWT made every performance venue a sanctuary for me.

3. What’s your hope for Near West Theatre now that we’re about to open our long-awaited new building and a new chapter in our history?

Jerome, with Doug Bailey as Franklin, in Merrily We Roll Along (2006).

Danny Caraballo (l.) as Jerome, with Doug Bailey as Franklin, in Merrily We Roll Along (2006).

My hope for the new theater is that it becomes the heart and soul of Detroit Shoreway. I grew up a few blocks away from the new venue and when I was a child I hadn’t the slightest idea of what live theater was. My hope is that Near West Theatre becomes one of Cleveland’s most prevalent artistic hubs, a magnet for children and teens to find an outlet to express themselves.

— Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences. A version of this article was also featured in the February 2015 edition of Near West Theatre’s monthly e-newsletter, The Near West Circle.

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‘Superstar’ starts transforming church space

Cast members give Director Bob Navis Jr. (standing in background) a little chaos. Photos by Hans Holznagel

Cast members show Director Bob Navis Jr. (standing, background) a little chaos. Photos by Hans Holznagel

Director Bob Navis Jr. called out from the pews of West Side United Church of Christ to the actors poised in every part of the sanctuary that was doubling as a theater wing. “This time I want you to find reasons inside yourself to make the stakes higher,” he told them as they prepared to improvise a high-energy crowd scene again. “This is not a quiet, private journey. That’s not what this scene is about and that’s not what the music is saying. I want to see chaos.” Musical Director Ian LeRoy hit the rehearsal piano and on they came, kids, teens and adults, groups at a time, encountering each other in aisles, on steps and atop platforms. Noise and action reigned. On Wednesday evening, Oct. 1, just two weeks into rehearsals, this grand sanctuary was well on its way to becoming the stage for Jesus Christ Superstar.

Musical Director Ian LeRoy (left) and Director Bob Navis Jr. (lower center) work with actors already using the first of temporary platforms.

Musical Director Ian LeRoy (left) and Director Bob Navis Jr. (lower center) work with actors — some already up on the first of temporary platforms.

Having spent initial rehearsals focusing on music, movement and ensemble-building exercises, and with principal roles now cast (see updated list below), actors are beginning to use just about every inch of this tall, arching sanctuary built by German Protestants in 1866. Temporary platforms and step units will help the cast fill that vertical space, adding visibility and dramatic effect. The show runs for nine performances, Nov. 21 through Dec. 7 at the church, 3800 Bridge Ave. (at West 38th St.), Cleveland. Tickets — $20 reserved Star Seats, $10 adult general admission and $8 general admission for 12 and under — are available online anytime or by calling 216-961-6391 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Dec. 4 performance will be interpreted by the American Sign Language troupe, The HeArd. –– Hans Holznagel

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[UPDATE, Oct. 10: Five more men, veterans of NWT shows, are needed to complete the cast. Interested? Call Director Bob Navis Jr. at 216-281-6879, or Assistant Director Kelcie Dugger at 216-961-9750.]

Near West Theatre’s community theater production of

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Lyrics by Tim Rice       Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Cast: Felix Albino, Edie Barcelona, Angie Bendahan, Raymond Boyd, Jeffrey E. Braun (King Herod), Sara Danielle Chapman (Simon Zealotes), Bridget Chebo (Mary Magdalene), Roger Connors, Kevin Conroy (Caiaphas), Carlos Cruz (Jesus of Nazareth), Sharron DeCosta (Maid by the Fire), Lauren Dockery (Annas), Angela Galarza (Old Man), Venchise Glenn, Lindsay Hajostek, Hannah Horton, Hillary Horton, Corinne Howery, Sophie Hull, Angellise Irizarry, Rachel Johanek, Louis Johnson II, Kevin Joseph Kelly (Pontius Pilate), Meg Kilbane, Bryen Kilbane, Sabrina Kim, Mike Knobloch, Jonas Kukelhan, Christine Larson, Elliot Lockshine, Roger Lowe (Roman Soldier), Amaya Moore, George Morgan (Judas Iscariot), Finn O’Malia, Jocelyn Perkins, Aaron Phillips (Peter), Mary Prucha, Eric Ritter, Daniel Ross, Lillian Ross, Jennifer Ryan (Priest), Brandon Schumacker, Cole Tarantowski, Nora van Lier, Piet van Lier, Kyanie Vazquez, Connie Wynn, Lawrence Young (Priest), Bob Zombar (Priest).

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


‘Superstar’ cast announced, volunteers sought

JCS publicity imageA record number of children, teens and adults – 118 of them,  including 68 newcomers! – turned out this month to audition for Near West Theatre’s fall 2014 production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Director Bob Navis Jr. broke the casting news to all of them by e-mail on Friday, Sept. 12. A postal letter was also mailed the previous day. Principal roles will be assigned after further callback auditions are held between now and the start of community-building activities and rehearsals on Sept. 21. The entire ensemble is listed below.

Picking an intergenerational cast of 58 people is a delight, but also bittersweet when 60 more hopeful people have to be told no. “We’re grateful to the actors of all ages who brought such energy and vulnerability to the auditions,” Navis said. “Several went out of their way to tell us the audition itself was a great experience, and we’re always delighted to hear that. Even a single night of auditions should be a way of carrying out our mission. The turnout was one more sign of vitality as we look ahead to the future in our new theater.”

“Thank you, NWT, for affecting change in me in just one night,” wrote one adult who auditioned. “I haven’t felt this ‘OK-to-be-all-me’ in a really long time. Even if tonight’s audition is as far as my JCS journey goes, it was just like Bob Navis said he hoped it would be for us all: a special, stand-alone experience.”

“Well, I didn’t chicken out last night,” wrote another. “I went to a very different audition where, for two-and-a-half hours, I had no idea what was going to be thrown at me next. At one point, Kelcie Dugger, the assistant director, said to me, ‘That was so great! I forgot your voice could do that!’ That meant the world to this middle-aged ‘teen’ who is still trying to bust out of his shell.”

Navis is particularly pleased with the balance of ages, genders and neighborhoods that were represented at auditions for the rock opera, to be staged at West Side UCC this November and December. The Superstar cast members, diverse in racial identity, range in age from 7 to 57. Just under two-thirds of them live in the City of Cleveland; the rest are from surrounding communities, mostly inner-ring suburbs. There are 16 girls and 12 boys, ages 17 and under; and 15 men and 15 women, ages 18 and over.

Now Near West has backstage and front-of-house Superstar roles to fill. Click here to learn more and volunteer. Also, tickets are now on sale for performances, Nov. 21—Dec. 7, at 216-961-6391 (weekdays, 11 to 4) or online anytime, here. — Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre’s community theater production of

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Lyrics by Tim Rice       Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Cast: Felix Albino, Edie Barcelona, Angie Bendahan, Raymond Boyd, Jeffrey E. Braun, Sara Danielle Chapman, Bridget Chebo, Kevin Conroy, Carlos Cruz, Sharron DeCosta, Lauren Dockery, Cole Emerine, Angela Galarza, Venchise Glenn, Lindsay Hajostek, Chris Holovacs, Hannah Horton, Hillary Horton, Corinne Howery, Sophie Hull, Angellise Irizarry, Rachel Johanek, Louis Johnson II, Kevin Joseph Kelly, Meg Kilbane, Bryen Kilbane, Sabrina Kim, Alice King, Jason Knauer, Mike Knobloch, Jonas Kukelhan, Christine Larson, Elliot Lockshine, Shannon McPeek-Korth, Amaya Moore, George Morgan, Finn O’Malia, Dante Palmer, Jocelyn Perkins, Aaron Phillips, Jesse Phillips, Mary Prucha, Eric Ritter, Daniel Ross, Lillian Ross, Nathan Rutz, Jennifer Ryan, Brandon Schumacker, Tonya Smith, Darius Stubbs, Cole Tarantowski, Ava Trevino, Nora van Lier, Kyanie Vazquez, Colin Wheeler, Connie Wynn, Lawrence Young, Bob Zombar.

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing operating support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.


‘Superstar’ artwork’s ready. Now we need you!

JCS publicity imageIt’s exciting every year: Fall auditions are almost here. You know things are getting real when the production staff starts meeting and the first artwork appears. Artistic Director Bob Navis Jr. and staff designer Laura Carlson Tarantowski have come up with an evocative, beautifully designed publicity image for our coming production of Jesus Christ Superstar. It’s an electric-blue version of Da Vinci’s Vetruvian man overlaid with ominous crosshairs and crowned with a line from the show, “To conquer death, you only have to die.” Together with the style of lettering, the image suggests a kind of ancient-medieval-contemporary continuum, as well as the tension inherent in the story as Jesus of Nazareth is celebrated one moment and targeted the next.

Now we need you! As noted at the show’s web page and in an earlier blog post, we’re planning an unusual production of this king of rock operas, taking full advantage of the 160-year-old West Side United Church of Christ sanctuary where it will be staged. We need a large, diverse cast of people of all ages, 7 and up, and all levels of acting experience, including no experience at all! Auditions are on the evenings of Sept. 2, 3 and 4. All are encouraged to give it a try; no advance registration is necessary. Consider joining our audition event page on Facebook and inviting other Facebook friends.

If the stage isn’t calling you but you want to get involved, there are plenty of opportunities. We’ll need backstage and tech volunteers who can commit to the last couple of weeks of rehearsal in November and then to every performance, Nov. 21 through Dec. 7. Call Kelcie Dugger at 216-961-9750 if you’re interested. We’ll also need the usual army of volunteers in the box office, concession stand, gift shop, and house, and people to bake goodies and pop popcorn. For those jobs, you can volunteer one night, several times, or for the whole run of the show. To express interest in that, chime in at our Near West Theatre Volunteers Facebook page or send an e-mail to volunteer coordinator Kim Flaherty at volunteers.NWT@gmail.com. And don’t forget about tickets! They’re available online anytime or by calling 216-961-6391 weekdays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. –– Hans Holznagel

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.

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Near West Theatre’s community theater production of

JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR

Lyrics by Tim Rice       Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber


Our fall 2014 show: ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’

This fall, in 2014, Near West Theatre will be between homes. We left the St. Patrick’s Club Building in June, and our new theater in the Gordon Square Arts District is not quite completed. But we’re still doing shows! We are thrilled to announce an explosive production of one of the most popular musicals of all time, Jesus Christ Superstar, presented in the historic West Side United Church of Christ, located at – well, at West 38th Street and Bridge Avenue, Cleveland. Does that sound familiar? It should! It’s literally across the streetfrom our old St. Pat’s home of 3 ½ decades. For three weekends in November and December, and for rehearsals all fall, the people of West Side UCC are opening their beautiful sanctuary to Near West Theatre. We will transform this space of stained glass and intricate wood carving into a theatrical rock venue.

NWT last presented Superstar as a 2003 summer youth production.

NWT last presented Superstar as a 2003 summer youth production. Photo by Rob Sommerfelt.

Jesus Christ Superstar, the king of rock operas, was created at the end of the turbulent 1960s with a social and political rebel at its center. Jesus’ meteoric rise to fame provides, as the title suggests, a parallel to contemporary celebrity worship. Judas sings, “If you strip away the myth from the man, you can see where we all soon will be,” prophesying centuries of controversy that would surround this one man, his life and his identity. Propelled by a stirring score that is driving and majestic, satirical and tender, JCS illuminates the transcendent power of the human spirit. This show startles the mind with its relevance and social implications.

It’s sure to sell out! Our production will feature a large cast of children, teens and adults. Experience the convergence of lead guitar, pipe organ, pews, passion, percussion and provocation. Grab a friend and come audition right after Labor Day. I hope to see you there!

West Side UCC is on the same side of Bridge Avenue as our former home, the St. Patrick's Club Building. Photo by Hans Holznagel

West Side UCC (foreground) is on the same side of Bridge Avenue as our former home, the St. Patrick’s Club Building (background). Photo by Hans Holznagel

One question we’ve been hearing is this: If your new theater won’t be ready till 2015, why didn’t you stay at St. Pat’s longer? The answer: We chose June for our last show at St. Pat’s to give our technical crew needed time between the dismantling of our old space and the move into our new building. If our fall show were at St. Pat’s, we wouldn’t be ready as soon as our Gordon Square theater becomes available. West Side UCC is a wonderful interim site: familiar to our community from past projects, available for rehearsals, and with a large gathering space where we can perform a stunning Superstar with reduced theatrical equipment. — Bob Navis Jr.

Jesus Christ Superstar Audition and Production Schedules

Auditions: Tuesday, Sept. 2, Wednesday, Sept. 3, and Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, at West Side United Church of Christ, 3800 Bridge Ave. (corner of West 38th Street and Bridge Avenue), in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.

  • Ages 7 to 13:  6:00 to 7:00 p.m.
  • Ages 14 through adult: 7:30 to 10:00 p.m.

As always, our auditions will be conducted in a relaxed, friendly, group-oriented atmosphere. No preparation or experience is required. Dress for movement. Arrive 15 minutes early to register.

Performances: Nov. 21 through Dec. 7, 2014. Sunday performances are at 7 p.m., except for the possibility of a matinee on Nov. 23, to be announced. [UPDATE as of Oct. 14: There will be no Nov. 23 performance, and the Dec. 4 performance will be interpreted in American Sign Language.]

  • Friday, Nov. 21 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 22 – 7:30 p.m.
  •  (No performance Thanksgiving Day)
  • Friday, Nov. 28 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 29 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 30 – 7:00 p.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 4 – 7:30 p.m. (interpreted in American Sign Lanaguage)
  • Friday, Dec. 5 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 6 – 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 7 – 7:00 p.m.

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Near West Theatre is grateful for ongoing programmatic support from the Ohio Arts CouncilCuyahoga Arts and Culture, and Greater Cleveland Community Shares, and for special support from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeastern Ohio for equipment used by young people in technical workshops and other backstage experiences.