Coastside kid about to make her center stage debut. By Sarah Griego Guz. Published in the Half Moon Bay Review on November 22th, 2017.
The current Coastal Rep production Coney Island Christmas stars our Eighth Grade student, Sadie Nolan, as Shirley a Jewish girl cast as Jesus in her school’s Christmas pageant. This Holiday show is fun for all the family and runs through December 17th.
Sadie Nolan has spent her childhood at the theater and is now set to make her center stage debut in “Coney Island Christmas.”
Nolan will play Jewish girl Shirley Abramowitz, who is cast as Jesus in her school’s Christmas play. The story unfolds in flashback fashion as a much older Shirley, brilliantly portrayed by Darlene Batchelder, gleefully recalls the scenario.
“The show is about a girl, me. She’s Jewish and basically she gets cast in a Christmas play,” said Nolan. “Her parents are not OK with it because it’s just against their religion. They don’t think that she should do that. She basically goes behind their back.”
It’s complicated, to say the least. Abramowitz’s parents are Jewish immigrants who fled their homeland to escape persecution. Now, with feet planted firmly in America, they struggle to keep their traditions alive in a new world awash with the Christmas spirit.
“I plan to bring a little sassiness, a little spunk to the role,” said Nolan. “Her parents are strict. I think they are a good strict, but that they are too strict. The people who play them, Kelly Gregg Rubingh and Eric Berglund, are wonderful.”
As she prepared for her big moment in the spotlight, Nolan reflected on those who have offered their support along the way.
“Sea Crest School has been wonderful with offering all the different acting electives,” said Nolan, who is in her eighth-grade year at Sea Crest Middle School. “The classes I’ve taken have helped me build my confidence in my theater skills. They’ve given me opportunities to actually act in front of an audience and really just do it.”
Her father, Doug Nolan, is a fixture on the Coastside theater circuit. Coincidentally, it was Doug Nolan who starred in last year’s Christmas program, “Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some).” He is also one of the leading men of the Half Moon Bay Shakespeare Co. whose most recent performances included roles in “Romeo y Julieta” as well as “Macbeth.”
“We run lines together,” she said. “I wouldn’t have done the Christmas show if it wasn’t for him. He’s always running lines with me, giving me pointers and helping me out.”
The younger Nolan is also a seasoned member of Coastal Repertory Theatre’s children’s program, an offshoot of the theater aimed at cultivating young talent.
“I started doing shows when I was in first grade,” remembers Nolan. “I got really serious about it when I was in fourth or fifth grade. I moved up to the older class and was ‘Wow, I’m really going to buckle down, work on my lines.’ I’m just very committed.”
Her first performance was eight years ago, when she acted in Oklahoma. She was in first grade.
“‘Beauty and the Beast’ has to be my favorite performance,” said Nolan, who was in fifth grade at the time. “That was the first time I felt the bond of the cast, the way that the cast works together. That’s when I really started to get serious about acting.”
Nolan believes her time spent developing her craft in the children’s program has prepared her for her starring role.
She credits Coastal Repertory Theatre children’s program teachers Kimberly Krol and Sabina Perlsweig for giving her the tools necessary for success.
“Kimberly Krol is the choreographer for the children’s shows,” said Nolan. “She’s such a wonderful singer and actress and she’s such a huge influence. She’s always been there for me. She’s very supportive, but she’s very firm and she really pushes us, which is what we need.
“Sabina Perlsweig is the singing teacher for the children’s classes,” she continued. “She’s really helped me become a better singer.”
Donald Margulies’ “Coney Island Christmas” opens this Friday and is scheduled to run through Dec. 17. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit coastalrep.com.