The theater at Trinity Prep School in Winter Park continues to be the setting for a great many exhibitions of what fine natural histrionic talent and wise guidance can accomplish.
The Theater, a stone’s throw off Aloma Avenue, has modest parking for prompt theatergoers, and is beautifully outfitted with the modern accoutrements that allow for varied and sophisticated stagings. The audience floor level rises in the back to provide a handy alternative to a balcony.
Of late, my b.w. and I have had the great pleasure of attending a performance each of two musicals in two weeks: The Voltaire/Bernstein
“Candide,” and George and Ira Gershwin’s early ‘30s hit, “Of Thee I Sing,” which gave us a very good opportunity to experience the versatility of the young players and their mentors.
That high school students would tackle a work on the level of Bernstein’s “Candide” is remarkable in itself, and the excellent results fully justified the decision. The Candide of Tommy Prast, the Pangloss of Riley Suter, and the Cunegonde of Kathryn Kilger provided a solid triangle of leads upon which to build a balanced dramatic structure.
Elements of scenery and costumes were pulled from a trunk of histrionic goodies, and kept audience eyes simultaneously curious and satisfied.
Theater Director Janine Papin did highly imaginative work in crowd handling and kept the cast of some three dozen always in place to deliver their individual contributions.
The singing of these high school youngsters was exemplary. Prast and Kilger were most impressive. Kilger’s “Glitter and Be Gay” was a breathtaking feat for a 17-year-old singer. (Kilger is headed to Emerson University, Boston, to train for a professional theater career, and Prast, to NYU in New York City.)
The Gershwin brothers’ “Of Thee I Sing” brought another aspect of Trinity’s capabilities. This show is a good indicator of where George and Ira were musically in the early ‘30s, right at the beginning of the Great Depression. Theater at that time was making a conscious effort to bolster the spirits of dollar-short theatergoers, and the spoofing of the two top politicians then is not out of place in politics today!
Outstanding performers were: Prast as John P. Wintergreen, candidate for president; Riley Suter as the hysterical Alexander Throttlebottom hopelessly lost in his quest for the vice presidency; Allison Cooper as the sweet, lovely Mary Turner in love with Wintergreen; diva Kathryn Kilger as Diana Devereaux, the stunning while jilted “promised wife to be” of Wintergreen; and Olivia van den Berg as political ringleader Madison Fulton. Jack Dwyer was especially smile-provoking as the French ambassador.
Olivia, by the way, gave a very outrageous and convincing portrayal as the Old Lady in “Candide.” (She is using her Trinity experience as a springboard next year to the University of Denver on a theater scholarship.)
Trinity’s dynamite theatrical kids after repeating “Candide” in Orlando’s Shakespere’s Theater on Friday and Saturday, July 27 and 28, (come enjoy the performances) will hop a plane to Edinburgh, Scotland, where they’ll present several performances of “Candide” in a theater Festival there.
The loss of so many graduating seniors among the actors at Trinity is a shock when first contemplated. However this remarkable school has a way of keeping the talent flowing and somehow filling the gaps of young stars who have gone on to far-off places.
Harvard’42—Distinguished Prof, Em.—UCF
2004 Fla. Alliance for the Arts award
(Assisted by beautiful wife Joy Roney)