Monday, February 27, 2017

Fame: the Musical

FAME: The Musical
    Hello, everybody!  This is Jimi Wright, and boy has it been an exciting week!  My school’s production of “Fame: The Musical” has entered tech week as of today (February 27th), and we’re all very excited to put on an amazing show.  I’m playing Nick Piazza in the show.  Since November, the cast has worked its way through a vigorous schedule of rehearsals.  And now we’re in the final stage before we stand up and present a riveting and incredible show to you!  
    “Fame: The Musical” is a show set between the years of 1980-1984, following a group of young hopefuls who were accepted into the prestigious “Performing Arts School” in New York.  Featuring excellent comic relief and humor, the play follows these high schoolers as they make their way through an education in the arts and struggle to keep their academics to an acceptable standard, they face the relatable challenges endured by teens and adults alike.  Throughout the show, these young teens work to find themselves and fit in.  The show tackles many controversial issues such as homosexuality, drug use, dropouts, and teenage romance.  It’s an inspiring and naturally relatable show sure to keep the audience at the edge of their seat, if they’re not standing up and dancing with the music already.  
    The play will be held at Joseph A. Foran High School in Milford, CT, on the dates of 3/3 (7:00 PM ET) and 3/4 (2:00 PM and 7:00 PM ET).  Tickets will cost either $10 or $12 at the door.  I guarantee it will be beyond worth the expense!
-James Wright
Sophomore at Foran High
Head of Board Recruitment Committee
(NPT Youth Board)

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Something Rotten

Something Rotten

Image result for something rotten

My favorite Shakespeare show is Something Rotten. No, Shakespeare did not actually write this show, but its comedic description of Shakespeare’s career was hilariously heretical, and made it an absolute must see for any lovers of theatre. The original cast included legendary Broadway stars Brian D’Arcy James as Nick Bottom and Christian Borle as William Shakespeare. Not only did this show spoof Shakespeare’s Hamlet perfectly, it also satirized the frivolity of musicals, making the audience not only laugh at the characters on stage, but also at their musically inclined selves. It was a show I enjoyed every aspect of this show from the opening number through the final bow. The irreverent jokes and silly storyline made this musical a truly feel good show. Sadly, the show has closed its Broadway doors in 2017, but fear not, the show has launched its 2017 national tour on January 10th. As both an avid Shakespeare and musical theatre fan, I highly recommend going to see it! 

- Sarah Kulaga
Senior at Lauralton Hall
Head of the NPT Youth Board Marketing Committee

Sunday, January 22, 2017

 Student-Run Productions

Student-run productions 

As the next school year rolls around, not only are thespians thinking about what school supplies they'll need, but they're also thinking about what monologue they should use for their audition. At Trumbull High School the fall plays start as soon as school starts. Trumbull High School has a tradition in which all fall productions are student run. The directors, producers and obviously the actors are all students. With the help from the Trumbull High School faculty, these shows are able to finally make it onto a stage. I had the great opportunity of directing "The Great Pie Robbery or, We Really Knead The Dough" This show is your classic hero versus village where the hero swoops in and saves the day. I decided to leave the spot light for the fall play and I try something new. Being a director was much harder than I expected. There was so much to be done in such a short period of time, it's a miracle that shows ever make it onto a stage! Being a director gave me such an appreciation for all the hard work that goes on backstage/prior to a show. There are so many things that a director needs to think about from characters to staging to costumes and emotions. I learned a lot from this experience such has as having to make decision on the spot that would better the group and the show and also how to communicate better with people and just just tell, but to show. This experience was probably the hardest experience of my time in the theatre world, but also the most rewarding. Being able to work on a show for so long and finally being able to see it happen is such a great feeling. This production was geared specifically toward children, so we took our show on the road and preformed at our local elementary schools. Seeing these kids faces just light up, made all the hard work and effort pay off. Something so simple as a group of high school students  being silly on stage and making those kids smile, will forever have an impact in my life. As an actress we don't preform for ourselves, we preform for others. At that moment all the stress and worries of putting this show together didn't matter anymore. What mattered was seeing those faces light up. As my senior year comes to a close, I can truly say directing was one of my favorite experiences. 

Andrea and the cast of The Great Pie Robbery... at their readthrough

-Andrea Alicea
Senior at Trumbull High School
President of the NPT Youth Board

Sunday, January 8, 2017

My View from All Sides of the Stage

My View from All Sides of the Stage
I’ve been a part of shows since the age of 5: acting, directing, stage managing, and playing in the pit. I’ve seen the stage from all sides, and each one holds its own place in my heart.
I began by acting, starting first with school shows in elementary school and then continuing on to community and local theatre now as a junior in high school. Acting gives me a rush of adrenaline like no other. Standing on stage in the blinding light is where I feel most at home: safe, yet exposed. As an actor, I have learned how to be part of a team, how to commit myself to a project, and how to be confident in myself. The stage is a place free of judgement, a place where self-expression and exploration is encouraged and fostered. I have found myself inside of the characters that I have played, and applied the emotion and experiences from my life to my acting. Being an actor has taught me to play, to experiment, and to understand humans and their inner battles and successes.
In seventh grade, I was in a show at my local acting studio when the stage manager asked if I would help assistant stage manage the younger kids’ production. It came to me as a surprise, for I had never considered being behind the scenes instead of onstage. But, I immediately agreed — I’m always looking for new challenges. Every day before the rehearsals for the show that I was in, I went to those of the younger kids’ and learned how to help them backstage, manage the props, and coordinate scenery shifts for the performances. I learned how to lead and take control in unpredictable situations. I improved my quick-thinking and problem solving, and was able to help a final product run smoothly and seamlessly.
So, in eighth grade, I knew that I wanted to lead again, but on a larger scale. I decided to direct a musical. After pitching the idea to my advisor in school, I coordinated auditions, cast the show, choreographed, musical directed, produced, and directed the full musical production of “13.” And two years later, I decided to direct again. This time was with elementary school students, and the show was “Peter Pan Jr.” Directing both of these shows allowed me to create. It  taught me how to extract the creative ideas that I formulated in my head and portray them to an audience; I was able to tell the story that I wanted to tell. I learned how to lead and work with different types of people, how to cooperate and advise, and how to illustrate my ideas in a work of art. And, it taught me the true meaning of appreciation; these actors and crew worked to create a vision that I desired to create. Their hard work and dedication was inspiring.
This past fall, I continued my journey when I decided to play cello in the pit for “A Christmas Carol.” It was a completely different experience than any of the others, but my experience acting and directing helped me immensely to be able to succeed. I was, once again, a part of a team, committed to creating a work of art, a message to the world. I was part of a single sound, unseen, but heard and felt. And, from this, I learned about being humble. I was part of a group of professional musicians, unseen in the pit, yet creating this music solely to inspire others. It was their gift to the world, and I am fortunate enough that it was able to become mine as well.
I’ve seen the stage from different angles, and they have all taught me the same thing in their own ways: be a team player, be a leader, be confident, be appreciative, be humble. Not just in theatre, but in all aspects of life. My experiences from all sides of the stage have shaped me as my own individual person, and I am eternally grateful to have been able to experience all of them. Try new things, put yourself out there, and remember that there is always more to learn.

The cast of Peter Pan, directed by Talia

-Talia Hankin
Junior at Newtown High School
NPT Youth Board member

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Great Pie Robbery...Or, We Really Knead the Dough

The Great Pie Robbery...Or, We Really Knead the Dough

Image result for the great pie robbery or we really

A few weeks ago Trumbull High students had the opportunity to perform The Great Pie Robbery...Or We Really Knead the Dough at elementary schools around the town. Students were able to share their love of theatre with hundreds of children in Trumbull. The show had lots of humor and food puns that made the children smile and giggle. The icing on top of the cake for this amazing play was that the entire show was student directed and produced by Andrea Alicea and Sydney Sirkin. They flawlessly put together an amazing show that was enjoyable for all ages. If anyone has the opportunity to see this fantastic play I strongly recommend it.

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The cast of The Great Pie Robbery performing at Frenchtown Elementary School

-Sophia Santos
Junior at Trumbull High School
NPT Youth Board Co-Chair

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Kinky Boots Review

Kinky Boots

    If you're looking for a high energy and  exciting show, your best bet would be to see Kinky Boots! This thrilling show has everything and more to make it the perfect experience to go and see. Between its outstanding lighting, choreography, acting, and music, you will never get bored. There’s constantly something new to see. There’s never a dull moment in this play!
    The plot of the story centers around a young man named Charlie Price, whose father unfortunately passed away and left him in charge of his father’s failing shoe company. He refuses to shut the company's doors and has to come up with an idea fast. After one fateful night in a dark alley, Charlie comes across Lola, a drag queen at the local night club.    
Lola's spectacular high heels break and he comes to realization that the heel cannot support the weight of a full-grown man, so he decides to change these shoes for the better.
    He turns his factory around; taking a production facility for old-school loafers and transforming it into a high-end boot factory for drag queens. The underlying theme constantly shown throughout the show is to express yourself and be true to who you are, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
    Six points that are constantly repeated throughout the show are…
  1. Pursue the truth
  2. Learn new things
  3. Accept yourself and accept others
  4. Let love shine
  5. Let pride be your guide.
  6. You can change the world when you change your mind

    This show is great for most audiences, from teens to adults! There’s some crude humor that may not be suitable for a younger audience, but regardless, it’s truly an awe-inspiring and amazing show!
(A teaser for this play can be found below.  Email viewers, just click the provided link.)
-Andrea Alicea 
Junior at Trumbull High School
Head of the NPT Youth Board Marketing Committee

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Acapella at the Apollo (Fairfield Prep Encords)

A Cappella at the Apollo 

The Apollo Theater in the Harlem District of Manhatten, New York.
     I recently performed at the Apollo Theater with my A cappella group, The Fairfield Prep Encords, during the Apollo’s Jazz Festival. The New York City Jazz festival is produced by Manhattan Concert Productions, and allows A cappella groups and instrumental groups from all over the country perform at this hallowed hall of music. The festival consisted of two days worth of activities, starting with a clinic and ending with a performance at the Apollo. 
Early Saturday morning, the Encords, and the Jazzuits (the instrumental group) left Fairfield with the music director Christine Evans. The A cappella group consists of 8 boys and 8 girls, and the group practices for 90 minutes every week. The all-male instrumental group practices for 90 minutes as well. The train ride on day 1 consisted of a group sing-along of the set list we had prepared (much to the delight of the other passengers in the car). Once in New York, we rushed to the Marriott in Times Square to participate in a clinic before the big show. The instrumental group was up first, their clinic being led by Pete McGuinness. The man was clearly an incredible musician, as he was able to pick up any instrument, and play it brilliantly despite it not being an instrument he frequently played. Following the instrumental clinic, the a cappella clinic was led by Greg Jasperse, a professor at Western Michigan University. We performed two songs from our set, “Words” and “Use Somebody.” After singing “Use Somebody”, Jasperse informed us that he helped produce the song and worked closely with the lead singer of Kings of Leon. Needless to say, we were all quite taken aback and impressed with the caliber of our critic’s credits.
Following the clinic, the group traveled to the bright lights of Broadway to see Something Rotten! The show is absolutely hysterical and Brian Darcy James truly shines in his role. Without a doubt, the best song in the show is called “A Musical.” With a broad knowledge of theater the allusions made in this song are both genius, and hilarious. The witty, comical nature of this show makes it a must see! 
The following day, the groups traveled to Harlem, to perform at the Apollo Theater. Encords was chosen to be the group used for sound check, so we were the first people on the stage. We got the opportunity to touch “the stump” (a famous tree that was touched by performers like Ella Fitzgerald before they went on stage). We were also the first group that performed. Our set list included “Kalamazoo” “Use Somebody” “Words” “Sir Duke” and “Pompeii”. To be on the same stage where Ella Fitzgerald and Stevie Wonder have performed was an unbelievable and unforgettable experience. Following our performance, we got to watch other high school a cappella groups from all across the country including Florida and California. Later that evening, a professional a cappella group known as The Real Group performed at the Apollo. Encords actually sang one of their songs, “Words” during our performance. The group is absolutely incredible, and one of the most famous a cappella groups in the world. This opportunity was an invaluable experience, and I highly recommend other a cappella groups to try to get involved in next year’s Jazz Festival!
Encords is a Mixed (Men and Women) Jazz/ A Capella Choir. It is audition only; auditions are held in the spring. They sing contemporary/modern to classical jazz music and they perform with the band and choir as well as perform at other gigs. 
-Sarah Kulaga, 16
Junior at Lauralton Hall
Member of the Marketing Committee in the NPT Youth Board

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear Evan Hansen Review

   Dear Evan Hansen

I recently saw an incredible Off-Broadway musical called Dear Evan Hansen. I bought tickets mainly because I LOVE the songwriters, but in the end was also blown away with the plot. With bold portrayal of the common personality traits of people within characters, along with an accurate representation of social media in comparison to today’s society, it was a truly amazing experience. And although the dead guy singing isn’t Gabe Goodman or Moritz Stiefel, this musical is easily as much of a tear-jerker as Next to Normal or Spring Awakening.
    The show focuses on Evan, a boy who struggles with social anxiety. He writes a letter to himself as an assignment to help his anxiety, but Connor, a misunderstood boy at school, takes the letter. Connor is found to have committed suicide three days later with the note in his pocket and the letter is mistaken as Connor's suicide note addressed to Evan. Evan goes along with the assumption that Connor wrote the note and therefore that they were friends for a variety of reasons: to comfort the family; to get closer to Zoe, Connor’s sister who he has a crush on; and, as he later admits, because he couldn’t resist the opportunity to be part of a functional family. Realizing that pretending to be Connor’s only friend makes him mean something, he abandons his originally innocent intentions and, contemplating whether to follow his beliefs or his need for attention, reluctantly builds onto the lie. In the end, however, he is right back where he started, with no friends, but beginning to believe in his own worth.
    One of the things that makes the story so effective is that everyone knows how it feels to want to fit in somewhere. From Evan’s first monologue, when he wittily introduces his struggle with social anxiety and being an outsider, it becomes clear that Evan’s mindset and longing to fit in are very relatable and help viewers connect to the show. After all, it was his struggle with dealing with people that caused him to lie about his friendship with Connor. The perfect day he creates in the song “For Forever” implies that even though he did not have friends, these stories let him believe that someone cared about him. The complexity of Evan’s character seems crazy at first, but his movements, actions, reactions, and words create an extremely humane character that makes it impossible not to compare him to someone you know, or even yourself. The outcome is an effective and accurate representation of an overthinking teenager who struggles with people.
    Although Connor and Evan think very differently, it is implied in the opening number that they are very alike, as both are secluded and misunderstood. Additionally, while Connor’s parents follow expectations and grieve their son, Zoe points out that his suicide doesn’t change the fact that he was a bad person, and refuses to lie to herself — another example of choosing between expectations and beliefs.
    Part of the reason why Dear Evan Hansen can make the audience laugh at some points and be close to tears at others is the music. The incredible Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (who also wrote A Christmas Story, Dogfight, and more) have once again proven to be absolute geniuses and the gods of contemporary musical theatre. Each song continues a conversation or monologue so that they are all important to the plot, and each song seems to completely explode the moment — along with your mind. The score captures the many emotions of this show, between love, betrayal, and self-reflection, and seems to say things so much better in song than it ever could in words. As a HUGE fan of Pasek and Paul, I might be a little biased in saying that the show wouldn't be as great as it is if they hadn’t written the music. Some of my favorites were "Waving Through a Window" and “Requiem,” and the music had me crying by intermission. The show also has awesome choreography, primarily in the song "Sincerely, Me", a scene with Connor, Evan, and Jared — and some wildly fun dance moves.  
    Another factor of it's success is the fantastic cast. Ben Platt perfectly and realistically portrayed the awkwardness of Evan, yet his display of emotion was accurate and tear-jerking...not to mention his HEAVENLY voice. As a big believer in being natural and connecting with a role, I was very pleased with his unique-but-effective acting. In addition, Mike Faist portrayed Connor Murphy incredibly well, convincingly becoming the troubled teen along with showing his comedic side in “Sincerely, Me.” Someone else I would like to mention is Will Roland, who played Evan’s “family friend,” Jared Kleinman, the comic relief of the show, perfectly and had the audience laughing harder than ever on several occasions. As the only person I had not heard of before seeing the show, I was surprised at just how much he blew me away.
(A teaser for this play can be found below.  Email viewers, just click the provided link.)

    Overall, Dear Evan Hansen is an incredible show, and I recommend that everybody go and see it!

-Julia and Michelle Levine, 14
Freshmen at Trumbull High School
Co-managers of the Programming Committee in the NPT Youth Board.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Big Short Movie Review

    The Big Short

     The movie entitled The Big Short has recently been made one of the  "Best Picture nominees" is a truly educational, inspirational, and immersive story.  The acting is phenomenal, and throughout the entire movie, you feel like you are right there with the characters.  This is also because of the way that the camera angles are established, and how they pan and tilt with the slightest bit of shake through the movie, making it less of a typical "lights, camera, action" type of movie.  In addition to its nomination for "Best Picture Award", The Big Short won an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, an 81% rating on Metacritic, and a 7.8/10 on IMDb.
     The Big Short focuses on the housing market (And overall economy) crash in the year 2008, and how a select few individuals were able to predict its occurrence years in advance.  It guides the viewer along the multiple story lines of these people, and how they were able to "Short" the housing market.  This was a bold and criticized move by them at the time, because the housing market was considered to be stable through a system of corruption, malfeasance, and fraudulence.  The movie exposes and explains different aspects and secrets of the stock market, housing market, and general economy.  
     This movie also acts as a warning of history repeating itself, because it explains subtle hints of the same events leading up to the 2008 crash beginning to occur yet again in the coming years.  I can not recommend this movie enough to anyone, and while it can almost be considered a documentary, the humor and immersion that the actors and the script provides keeps the viewer interested.  The only possible downfall of this movie is the fact that it is rated R (Restricted) for "Pervasive language and some Sexuality/nudity".

The trailer for this movie can be found below (Email viewers, please click the provided link)

     Thanks for reading!  And hey, if you go watch it, maybe you can learn a thing or two as well. 

-Jimi Wright, 15
Freshman at Joseph A. Foran High School
Member of the NPT Youth Board

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Insects, giant peach and amazing adventures. An amazing story written by Ronald Dahl. Trumbull High School has put in a lot of work and effort in the production of James and The Giant Peach. The cast and crew had the amazing opportunity to go to the local elementary schools and present this show to grades kindergarten to third. "It was really great to see such a young crowd enjoying this show" say one cast member. A few members of our youth board made their appearances in this high energy show! "It's bittersweet to see the show close, but it's time to find a adventure." Trumbull High School has its next show, Charley's Aunt which takes place in the 17th Century of a boy and pal who are trying to win the hand in marriage of two young women and the twist and turns of their efforts. The show has its opening next week November 13th and 14th at 7:00 pm.

By Andrea Alica
This weekend at Ithaca they have there fall musical being performed. Their fall musical Hair takes place in the 60's and 70's and describes the bohemian life style in New York City at this time period.  They have shows on November 7th at 8:00 and November 8th at 3:00. Although it may be a little bit of a drive for many it is definitely worth it because this school is a top school for many Seniors interested in getting into Theatre as a career. The performance is at 953 Danby Rd Ithaca, New York 14850.  

By DJ Flam

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Movie Review: Inside Out!

Saturday, I had the pleasure of seeing Pixar's newest animated film, Inside Out. It's like they said, "Hey, wanna have a film where feelings have feelings?" and out came this movie. However, I cannot give it enough praise. This movie didn't feel like a typical Pixar movie, such as Toy Story, Cars, or The Incredibles. But, I'll get to that later.

The emotions of INSIDE OUT
Here is the official summary of the film: "Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is a happy, hockey-loving 11-year-old Midwestern girl, but her world turns upside-down when she and her parents move to San Francisco. Riley's emotions -- led by Joy (Amy Poehler) -- try to guide her through this difficult, life-changing event. However, the stress of the move brings Sadness (Phyllis Smith) to the forefront. When Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley's mind, the only emotions left in Headquarters are Anger, Fear and Disgust."

Here is the official trailer (Email viewers, click here: Trailer)

The movie was great! It got a 98% approval rating on Rotten Tomatos, and critics enjoyed it so much. I loved it, and the friend that I saw it with loved it too. In all honesty, this will win the award for Best Animated Feature Film at the Oscars this year. 
It seemed like they made a movie that wasn't just for the kids. In fact, I would say this movie was geared more towards the adults than geared towards kids. There were some parts that just hit us home, because we've been through this. There is something called The Memory Dump, and anything that goes in there is forgotten forever. Memories that seem important at the time go there and are forgotten. In the film, one of those was 3 years of piano. In some parts, you wonder what went into your memory dump. I actually heard kids ask their parents why the people next to them were crying.

I can't keep saying that the movie was incredible. One thing that threw me off for a bit was that I recognized Amy Poehler's voice. Maybe that's because I binge-watched all 7 seasons of Parks and Recreation before seeing the movie. Regardless, she was the perfect choice for Joy. She literally brought joy to the character, and that just made the whole movie better.

Go see this movie! It may be no Frozen, but it is all the more important. You will fall in love with this masterpiece.
-Nathan Clift, 18
Incoming freshman at Western CT State University
President of the NPT Youth Board