MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Hunter Kovacs, a Maplewood eighth-grader, will be an extremely busy young man for the next month as he juggles his schoolwork with rehearsals for the Maplewood Middle School production of “Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” and more than 40 performances in his featured role in the musical, “Oliver!,” at the Paper Mill Playhouse, which runs from Nov. 21 through Dec. 29.
Kovacs had taken acting and improvisation classes at the Paper Mill Playhouse last year before he decided to audition for The Paper Mill’s production of “The Sound of Music.” He auditioned along with about 400 other kids and found himself cast in the key role of Kurt Von Trapp.
He was also a presenter at the Rising Star Awards at the Paper Mill Playhouse last year. Those experiences deepened his love of theater and when auditions for Oliver! were announced, there was no doubt he would try out.
“That experience with 'Sound of Music' was just so fun every night,” Kovacs said. “I was in almost every scene and rehearsals were pretty intense.”
Now, for the new production of Oliver, he was up against hundreds of other actors again, and landed not one, but two roles. He will be playing one of the “Workhouse Boys” and a member of Fagin’s gang.
As a 14-year-old, Kovacs was too old to play the character of Oliver, and the theater wanted an Actor’s Equity union member for the part of the Artful Dodger, but Kovacs is pleased to be part of the production and enjoying every minute of it.
“So far it has been awesome,” Kovacs said. “I’ll get to sing six or seven songs between the Workhouse Boys and Fagin’s gang.”
Rehearsals for Oliver were held at the Manhattan Theater Club Studios, which required Kovacs to commute into New York, as if he was not busy enough. Kovacs also plays the tenor saxophone, does commercial voiceover work, sings in the Select Chorus at school, and is teaching himself to play piano and guitar.
Here is a video clip of Oliver highlights:
For more information on Oliver and the Paper Mill Playhouse, visit: http://www.papermill.org/shows-tickets/298-oliver.html.