Bridgeway Student and actor sings, dances in Gypsy on Broadway
E.GREENBUSH--September means back to school for most kids. But for 11-year old Jacob Clemente it means a Broadway debut.
While his friends began the 7th grade at Goff Middle School Thursday, Jacob will live in New York for the next six months and receive homeschooling. His parents, Linda and Jude will split the responsibilities commuting to and from the city during the week. The family is not too worried about him missing school because Jacob is a straight-A student. The family thinks the experience will be an education in itself.
But it won't be easy.
"I'm on every night," Jacob said.
The Clementes have encouraged and supported their kids' love of the performing arts. Jacob's three siblings are also involved in dance and performing.
Jacob started dancing at the age of three and as a member of the East Greenbush Staging Youths Future Inc., (SYFI) he was part of the ensemble cast in the production of Beauty and the Beast. "I played a wolf, a bookshelf and a fork in that play," he said.
His resume continues with his joining the cast of Grease with SYFI, a show at Cohoes Music Hall and Schenectady Light Opera. He's already won awards from New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA) for Mini Outstanding Dancer, Starquest Regional competition at International Dance Challenge and a Ballet Scholarship from The World of Dance.
Earlier this year, Jacob auditioned for Billy Elliot, and was called back, but he was told he was too young for the part. However, the director assured him they would call him to audition again. Billy Elliot is the story about a young boy in a depressed northern England mining town who longs to dance. He happens upon a ballet class and has to convince his working class parent that he loves to dance. The sweet story is peppered with adult language, however, and Jacob had to spout profanity throughout his audition. "It was a little embarrassing to say the 'F word' with my mom watching," he said.
While watching the Tony Awards, Jacob and his mom were debating about a song from Gypsy. "I was sure the newsboy song was from the play, and when my mom Googled it we found out that there was an audition for the play. So we all tried out," he said. His sisters Lydia and Mandy tried out for baby June and baby Louise, but there were more girls at the audition. "It's harder for girls," Jacob said. "There weren't as many boys." During the audition, he had to sing and "smile a lot." Jacob was asked to display his dancing talents and was offered the part.
Set during the vaudeville era, Gypsy is the tale about Rose (Patty LuPone), a persistent stage mother, who travels the country with her two daughters, June and Louise and their manager, Herbie. While June and Louise wish their mother would settle down and marry Herbie, Rose continues to pursue her dreams of stardom for her girls. When June deserts the act, Rose turns her attention to the shy Louise, whom she hopes to fashion into a star. When the act is booked into a burlesque house by mistake, Louise is forced into the spotlight and Gypsy Rose Lee is born.
Like any pre-teen boy, Jacob is also interested in hockey and wrestling. "I was a good wrestler, but once I started dancing, I just liked it better," he said. He's seen his share of auditions. His family subscribes to the Back Stage publications and the family is always on the look out for what could be the role of a lifetime. Jacob is thrilled about being in Gypsy with Patty LaPone, but most of his friends don't understand his excitement. "They don't really know who she is or that she's won so many awards," he said. "But they think it's cool."
As far as plans for the future... Broadway or Hollywood. Count on it.
Last Updated (Friday, 13 February 2009 20:30)