There must be something in the water at Maplewood Middle School.
First, it was local girl made good Beatrice Miller, who is rising to the top on The X Factor.
Now we have Miller's schoolmate, Hunter Kovacs, an MMS 7th-grader who will soon be seen as Kurt von Trapp in the revival of The Sound of Music at the Paper Mill Playhouse.
Hunter, who has spent all of his 13 years in Maplewood (his birthday was on Tuesday), lives with his parents, Mark and Nancy, and his brothers, Jared and Cole.
Hunter got the part after competing against 400 other children in an open call audition. "After two callbacks and four days of waiting, we finally got the call that Hunter had been chosen to portray Kurt von Trapp," said Nancy. "To quote Hunter, 'It is awesome!'"
He started rehearsals last weekend. The show opens on November 23 and runs through December 30.
In his spare time, Hunter loves going to the Village Trattoria and Strawberry Fields, as well as hanging out with his friends. He plays baseball, swims for the Maplewood Makos, is a member of both the chorus and the band, and plays guitar, clarinet and tenor saxophone. He is teaching himself the piano.
Nancy said that since he was a toddler, Hunter has enjoyed acting and singing. A few years ago,he answered a casting call for an off-Broadway cabaret at Don't Tell Mama in New York City.
"That is where it really became evident that Hunter wanted to be an performer," said Nancy. He was asked to audition for his manager and has been acting professionally ever since. He currently studies acting with South Orange actress Suzanne Hevner at the Paper Mill.
In 2010 and 2011, Hunter was chosen as one of 120 elementary school vocalists to perform with the NJ All State Honor Choir. He also does commercials and voice-overs.
Locally, he has performed in three Morrow Musical Theater productions and played "The Baker" in last year's MMS musical, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
For tickets to The Sound of Music, visit the Paper Mill Playhouse website.