Elmsford Native Reaches New 'Heights' In Broadway Show

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Elmsford native FaTye, center, will star in Westchester Broadway Theatre's "In the Heights" as Benny, an African American who is struggling to fit in in a predominantly Spanish-speaking community.
Elmsford native FaTye, center, will star in Westchester Broadway Theatre's "In the Heights" as Benny, an African American who is struggling to fit in in a predominantly Spanish-speaking community. Photo Credit: Samantha Kramer

ELMSFORD, N.Y. — Competing against actors from across the country, it seemed impossible that Elmsford native FaTye would get to play his dream role.

But hard work paid off for the 24-year-old, as he'll join a cultural cast of actors this month playing Benny in the broadway musical "In the Heights." The show will debut at Westchester Broadway Theatre in Elmsford Friday night.

FaTye studied at New York University and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. It's been a lifetime goal of his to not only star in his favorite musical "In the Heights," but to also play the role of Benny, a former hoodlum who is trying to better his life while he's caught in a love triangle between his crush and his best friend.

Benny is also the only African American living in the predominantly Dominican-American neighborhood, Washington Heights.

"There's so many backgrounds and cultures to learn about," said FaTye, speaking of both the actors and the characters they play. "It's humbling to me for so many reasons."

FaTye is one of only two actors picked from the Westchester County area. Most of the cast lives in Manhattan, while some came all the way in from California and Texas, said John Fanelli, the show's director.

Also the founder of Lighthouse Youth Arts Center in Thornwood and Standing Ovation Studios in Armonk, Fanelli has had plenty of experience directing shows. What makes this one unique is its contemporary style, he said.

"Most shows I direct were written before I was born," Fanelli said. "It's fun to work on something contemporary. But it still has themes that are extremely old-fashioned."

The show's other local actor, Pleasantville resident Joey Sanzaro, said he's happy to be a part of a type of theater that is new to the area.

"There's no show like this around. This is definitely a first in the area," said  Sanzaro, who plays "Piragua Guy."

"In the Heights" will be at the theater through March 17. Visit the Westchester Broadway Theatre's website to purchase tickets.

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