Welcome to the CYO Players Theatre Program
The CYO Players is a theatre group dedicated to inspire and develop the talents of children starting at age four, teens, and young adults. While embracing catholic traditions, morals, and values, members perform as actors, singers, and dancers learning to express themselves, entertain others, and receive appreciation for their effort. In providing this learning experience, as well as instilling self-confidence, our aim is to offer our members the opportunity to learn all aspects of theatre production, foster individual talents, and form lasting friendships.
CYO Players History
CYO Players began in September of 2006 with a request to bring musical theatre to the South Shore of Staten Island. It was also a dream of the CYO organization to add another element to the community, not just sports. It was intended to be a place where children with the love of singing, dancing, and acting could perform in a safe, fun, and loving environment. Our first show yielded 45 children, a 12x8 stage, one spot light and 2 microphones. The show was a huge success! Over the last 9 years the program has grown exponentially! We now have anywhere between 100-150 students per show, a full technical lighting and sound set up thanks to the tireless efforts of parent volunteers, live musicians and a MUCH larger stage!
We have expanded our season to include three shows a years ( Christmas Show, Spring Show and Summer Show) We are lucky to have an amazingly talented staff who enjoy working with the children day in and day out after working full time jobs. With their knowledge of theatre dance and music they are able to guide each child to their full potential.
CYO Players Goals
- To instill the love of theatre to Staten Island’s Youth.
- To provide a safe and fun environment for the children to learn and grow.
- To learn techniques of every aspect of the performance arts
- To develop lasting friendships through the love of musical theatre.
- To foster critical thinking of musical technique.
- To create a unified camaraderie with a common goal.
Summary of the Program
Auditions for singing and dancing are held before every production. For singers, children come to sing their favorite piece of music to showcase their talents. For dancers, they will be taught a small choreographed dance piece to assess their dance ability. Children have the opportunity to audition for singing, dancing, or both if they choose. The student will perform in front of a panel of our staff and receive immediate positive feedback including a Congratulatory Letter informing the student and parents of their acceptance into the program. This is then followed by a Mandatory Parent Information Meeting during which they are provided with all necessary paperwork and calendar of rehearsals.
The CYO Players rehearsal process is layed out as follows:
“Peanuts” singers ages 4-8 rehearse for one hour one day a week
With this age group music is taught in a sing and repeat method to ensure the children retain all the music even if they are not able to read as of yet. They will learn at a beginners level basic musical warm ups and training.
“Stars” singers age 9-12 rehearse for one and half hours one day a week
With this age group music is now taught in harmony sections. Each section will be taught how to sing choral style learning basic harmonies while listening and following with piano accompaniment.
“Headliners” singers age 13 and up rehearse for two hours once a week
With this age group music is also taught in harmony sections. Each piece of music has grown in difficulty according to the talents and skills that they have learned over time.
Dancers will learn different styles of dance including jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and, tap. All Dancers are broken up into different age groups. Each group learns a dance according to their dance level. All groups participate in full group numbers as well as multiple group numbers. No experience is required to join our dance groups. Rehearsals for our dancers is a once a week full group rehearsal for an hour and a half. There is also a rehearsal for each small group that meets one other time during the week.
Three Weeks before show rehearsal are scheduled for three times a week and includes all singers and dancers. These rehearsals a critical in piecing the show together.
Final Week of show we rehearse in our show space every day which includes working with all technical aspects of the show and full costume dress. During this “Tech Week” we hold a preview night rehearsal for one parent of every family involved in the show. This allows the children to perform in front of a practice audience before actual show nights.
Cast Party is held at the end of every run. The children enjoy and pizza party provided by the staff as a chance to unwind and celebrate a job well done.
Melissa Sekzer-Kane (Director/Producer)
Melissa is a graduate of Touro College with a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Special and General Education. She is a theater teacher for the New York City Department of Education. She also is currently the Assistant Director at St Joseph By the Sea HS for their spring musicals. She not only teaches, but has performed with countless groups around Staten Island and Manhattan including Seaview Playwrights Theatre and KillHer Entertainment. Melissa is a founding member of CYO Players and is proud of the growth it has accomplished and the future it’s headed for.
Nicole Colonna ( Director / Choral Conductor)
Nicole is a graduate of Wagner College. It is there that she earned both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in elementary education. While attending Wagner College, Nicole minored in music, studied choral conducting, and was a member of the Wagner College Choir. During that time, she received vocal training, participated in vocal recitals, and served as stage manager in the college’s Performance Hall.
Her college music experience is preceded by her participation in the St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School music program. As a substitute teacher for the Archdiocese of New York, Nicole has taught from kindergarten to sixth grade and has also substituted as music teacher in those grades. Nicole is presently teaching at St. Charles School on Staten Island. As a primary grade teacher she also enjoys teaching music and songs to her class, and preparing them to sing and perform in their school’s Christmas show.
As a founding member of the CYO Players, Nicole has been their director and conductor since it began. Nicole is very happy to be able to pursue her two loves of teaching and music in her work.
Andrew Monteleone (Musical Director)
Andrew is pleased to be in his first year with the CYO players. He is currently in his twentieth year as a faculty member at Msgr. Farrell HS and has been musically directing shows for the last 25 years. Andrew is currently the Director of Speech and Drama at Msgr Farrell HS and director of Speech at Notre Dame Academy. He has also musically directed with In The Wings Productions, Sundog Theater, and the Subset Players, of which he is the founding producer
Stephanie Langella (Assistant Director)
Stephanie studied musical theatre, classical acting and voice at the American Musical And Dramatic Academy. She has been involved in musical theatre since she was seven years old. She is a former assistant choir director at Our Lady Star of the Sea church, and has also worked as the assistant director and stage manager for OLSS's theater group. She has performed on many stages both on Staten Island and in Manhattan. She has been with the CYO Players since their foundation in 2006, and has been their assistant director for eight years and counting!
Dana Cavello (Assistant Director)
Dana has been with the CYO Players since 2007. She started as a cast member working her way up learning all facets of the CYO Players program from players to production. She's thrilled to have been chosen as the new Assistant Director. She currently attends St. Johns University as a Psychology major.
Marie Causi (Choreographer)
Marie has been doing the choreography for the CYO Players since the Christmas show of 2009. She is a graduate of St John’s University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education. She has been a dancer for 19 years and throughout those years; she has taken classes in tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, lyrical, pointe, and modern. She choreographed the St. Joseph by the Sea Production of "The Pajama Game", along with 5 dance productions at St. John's University. Marie has taught dance classes at Miss Caroline's Dance Elite, where she danced for 15 years. She has appeared on stage in the St. Joseph by the Sea productions of "Guys and Dolls' and "Fiddler on the Roof", has been a part of 13 CYO productions so far, and is excited for all of the future CYO productions to come.
Therese Causi (Choreographer)
Therese graduated with a Bachelors degree in Education from St. John's University. She has been dancing since she was four years old with Miss Caroline's Dance Elite and was also a dance teacher at Moving in Time dance studio. Therese choreographed The Pajama Game at St. Joseph by the Sea high school in 2012. She also works at a special needs preschool. Therese has been with the CYO players from 2007 and has been choreographing along with her sister since 2009.
Kate Burkhart….I want to thank the CYO Players staff for all that they do! My daughter always wanted to sing and dance but was too shy! The first time she auditioned she was so nervous and you can barely hear her sing. After only two shows she has had a huge boost in confidence. I was so proud to see her walk into this year’s audition. She came home and told the whole family that Miss Nicole, Miss Stephanie, Miss Melissa and Miss Dana that her audition was really good. She knows she will always be a star in my eyes but now she feels like a star at CYO! And our youngest daughter Mackenzie joined the cast and couldn’t be more excited to follow in her older sisters footsteps...(Madison Burkhart age 7, Mackenzie Burkhart age 4)
Danielle Graziano…Thank you to Melissa Kane and Nicole Colonna and the entire CYO players staff for yet again another great experience for all of these little ones. You gave Emily a chance to sing that I never thought she would do and now she loves it! And a special thanks to Marie and Therese Causi for always allowing my baby to do what she loves so much doing!....(Emily Graziano age 7 & Madalyn Graziano age 5)
Kim Marucheau…Just want to say a big thank you everyone involved in the CYO Players production. This was my girls first year and they looked forward to rehearsal every week. They had a blast performing in the shows. Thanks for the great experience! Looking forward to doing it for years to come. (Hailey Maricheau age 8 and Kaitlyn Maricheau age 5)
Rhonda Davidson…As I reflect on my daughters experience with the CYO Players I think about when my niece started with the CYO Players in their second show ever and my daughter Danielle joined five years ago. I’m so glad they found you. I don’t know if they truly know the positive impact they have on our children’s lives, giving them a safe place to around other fantastic kids, nurturing their talent and confidence and teaching them responsibility while having fun. I want to offer all the CYO staff a sincere and heartfelt THANK YOU for your time, generosity and support throughout the years. So glad to be part of this “Loud and Crazy Family”…. (Danielle Long age 11)
Liana Amodeo…CYO players have helped my children grow in talent and self-confidence. Over the past several years, my kids have become part of a creative family that has nurtured each one of their talents and creative individuality. At CYO, children from the very youngest preschooler to the college bound young adult have created a family bond like no other. As a mom of three I can not think of a more trust worthy youth group for my kids to spend time at. I adore the friendships they have made over the last several years, and I continue to enjoy each performance under the direction of two of the most dedicated women I’ve ever met. The CYO team of directors, co-directors, musicians, choreographers, and, parent helpers always make time for our children putting aside their own busy schedules for the sake of the show. I am grateful that my son and two daughters have their CYO family to lean on and share performances with. “Put on a Happy Face” It’s Show Time! (Joseph Amodeo age 17, Victoria Amodeo age 14 and Julianna Amodeo age 11)
Each student involved in the CYO Players Theatre Company is required to pay a $ 65 dollar production fee per show. This money is a one-time non-refundable fee to help with the cost and expensive of the production. This fee is to be paid by Check made out to CYO
Each show there is the opportunity to purchase tickets. The Pre show ticket prices are as follows
Floor (numbered) seats: Adults are $ 12 and Children(under 12) and seniors(65+) are $10
Bleacher seats: $8
Discounted prices are available until four days before the show
All tickets purchased day of the show are $ 15 for Floor (numbered) seats and $10 for bleachers