Thursday, March 15, 2018

NPT Youth Interviews: Jimi Wright

What is your name and how old are you?

James Wright, and I'm a 17 year old from Milford, .

What roles have you had?
Troy Bolton, Nick Piazza, The Scarecrow, Prince Charming, The Ugly Duckling, Sebastian, Orphan/Thief in Oliver, and Native in Peter Pan.

Of all the roles you have played in the past, which is your favorite?
Playing the Ugly Duckling was my favorite because I was able to play a role that was relatable to my own life experiences.  It was also really something when I looked out in the audience and saw a bunch of people crying after I sang “Different”.

What was your first role? How old were you, and why did you do it?
    I was 12 when I played Prince Charming in Into the Wood Jr. at East Shore.  I joined the Drama Club because in my elementary school it was a place to find people who were more accepting and friendly towards me.
What character was the toughest for you and why was it challenging?
Troy Bolton from High School Musical was a really hard character to play.  It was a stretch to try to match his nature and make him my own at the same time.  Also, have you heard him sing? [He's a bit high]

Who is your favorite Actor and what would you do if you met them?
    My favorite actor is Harrison Ford.  I’ve been a diehard Star Wars nerd my entire life, from movies to novels to comic books.  Naturally I’d adore the actor of Han Solo, but Harrison Ford has done so much more. Indiana Jones, Air Force One, Ender’s Game, the list goes on and on.  He’s really an awesome guy. If I met him, I would probably ask him why he was in Milford.

Is there any show that you are currently apart of?
    It’s called Jimi’s Jamboree.  It takes place in front of a live high school audience between the hours of 7am and 4pm Eastern Standard Time, Mondays through Fridays.  Tune in to Foran High School and study my constant efforts to make the mundane somewhat entertaining.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Billy Porter and Stark Sands' Final Curtain Calls in Kinky Boots

Kinky Boots' original stars Billy Porter and Stark Sands returned to the boots from September 26, 2017, through January 7, 2018. Tony Award winner Billy Porter ( and Tony Award nominee Stark Sands reprised the roles they created as Lola and Charlie, which was you can view here posted on YouTube.
Kinky Boots is based on a true story and the indie film of the same name, Kinky Boots follows young Charlie Price, who abandons his family’s shoe factory to live with his demanding girlfriend in London. After the unexpected death of his father, Charlie returns to the struggling factory and finds it’s up to him to figure out a way to keep the business alive. Enter Lola, a fabulous drag queen, who gives Charlie the idea to create ladies’ shoes for men. Soon, the factory is turning out “kinky boots” under the supervision of Charlie and Lola, but can this harebrained scheme actually work? And can these two extremely different men find a common ground and become friends?

The first promo for NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live

The first promo for NBC's Jesus Christ Superstar Live was early January 2018, which will air on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018. Oscar, Golden Globe, Tony and 10-time Grammy Award winner John Legend has been cast as Jesus Christ, rock legend Alice Cooper has been cast as King Herod and Broadway star Sara Bareilles has been cast as Mary Magdalene.
 "Jesus Christ Superstar" was originally conceived as a concept album that hit #1 on the Billboard charts, and eventually made its way to the stage in 1971. It is based on the final week of Jesus' life. 1971 musical opened at the Mark Hellinger Theatre on Broadway and was nominated for five Tony Awards, including Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for Vereen. Lloyd Webber won a Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Composer. Since then, the musical has been considered a classic and has become a staple of theater and music organizations throughout the world. And I am truly excited to check it out!

Stand Out In Your College Audition

Stand Out In College Auditions

           For those desiring to pursue theatre in college, it is the nerve-wracking season, as many schools are either beginning or are in the middle of their audition process. The advice I present you with today comes from a presentation I received from Mrs. Carla Jackson, the Theatre Program Administrator of Fordham University. Upon meeting with her at a college visit, she stated what is most crucial in an audition.
           You must be confident in your abilities. The judges realize that you are trying to go to school to learn more about your craft. Therefore, you don’t need to be the most talented you just need to show them that you are a good candidate. Researching and Choosing the right material in order to put your best foot forward for these auditions is also important. Make sure the material is age-appropriate, you can age yourself up or down a little bit, but don’t do anything unrealistic. Make the piece work for you, your audition shows all your strengths and hides your weaknesses. If you have a great high note, pick a song that features that. If you’re not a very strong singer, you’ll get in on your acting and dancing abilities, so keep your song simple. First, make sure you read all the audition requirements for the school carefully. Each school requires different things, for a reason, and not adhering to it leaves a bad impression. That might mean having multiple monologues or songs prepared, and accepting that fact in advance will save you a lot of grief, and you gotta practice. The better you know your material, the more confident you’ll be and the better it will read.

Lion King Musical has Made More for Disney than Star Wars

Lion King Musical has Made More for Disney than Star Wars

Disney’s best-selling property, in terms of entertainment property, isn’t Star Wars. It’s The Lion King,
which has grossed just under $8.1 billion in its 20-year run on Broadway as of December 2017. That
number makes it the highest-grossing entertainment property in history. Second is Phantom of The Opera,
with $6 billion. The biggest film is Avatar, at just $2.8 billion. In more Disney-centric terms: The Lion
King has made more money than the new Star Wars films combined. And it is very close to every single
Star Wars film combined. The total gross for the Star Wars franchise currently sits at $8.2 billion. In a few
more months, The Lion King will surpass that. In terms of merchandise, few properties in the galaxy can
compete with Star Wars. Which has generated an estimated $37 billion.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

CT High School Musical Theatre Awards

CT High School Musical Theatre Awards

For the past 9 years the Palace Theatre has hosted the CT High School Musical Theatre Awards. The awards show is in a similar style to the Tony Awards and honors high school students and adult contributors who participate in school musicals. This year the Awards featured 15 high schools total with 13 in Connecticut and 2 in Rhode Island. The show has a variety of categories including best hair/makeup design, best choreography, and best chorus. The most competitive and prestigious categories are Best Leading Actor/Actress and Best Overall Show. The actor and actress winners get to go to a Broadway Workshop in New York City with other winners from other states. I was lucky enough to be nominated this year for best leading actress for my role as Gertrude McFuzz in Seussical with Notre Dame High School. As a result, I was able to perform a solo amongst the many other unbelievably talented nominees. The entire event was an amazing thing to be apart of with incredible performances and great presenters. My favorite part was actually following the show when I was able to see my adjudication form and review the judges criticisms so I could work on different aspects of my performance. Overall, I believe the CHSMTAs are an experience all CT High School theatre students should have its a great example of the amazing artistic community we have in Connecticut.

- Sarah Kulaga
Senior at Lauralton Hall
Youth Board President

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Step Into The Land Of Lola: My Kinky Boots Experience

A Step Into The Land Of Lola: My Kinky Boots Experience

 Image result for kinky boots
     Hello everyone! Just a few weekends ago, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Kinky Boots on broadway- a show about a man, Charlie Price, trying to save his father’s shoe company, with a little unexpected help from Lola, a drag queen who changes Charlie’s life for the better, while spreading hope and pride to everyone she meets. went into the show completely unsure of what to expect; all I knew was that Brendon Urie, front man of Panic! At The Disco, was playing Charlie Price. I was expecting to enjoy the performance, but little did I know that it would actually become one of my absolute favorite shows!
     Everything about this show was phenomenal. The costumes, the fun and uplifting music, the amazing drag, and especially the dancing. My personal favorite bit of dancing in the show was during the song “Everybody Say Yeah”- the cast did flips and insane dancing on treadmills!
      The show overall left me absolutely speechless. There was not one moment in the show that was slow- throughout the entire performance I was completely sucked into the story. And to top off the phenomenal experience, Brendon Urie was fantastic, especially considering it was his first experience acting ever!
       If you're looking to see a broadway show this summer, this show will not disappoint!
Brendon Urie in Kinky Boots on Broadway

-Sydney Maher
Junior at Foran High School
Member of the NPT Youth Board

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Keep The Stage Lights Bright Every Night

Keep The Stage Lights Bright Every Night

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Hi everyone! This past April and May I was performing in my favorite show, In The Heights at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre! It was an amazing experience that I had never had before. I worked only with adults, there was a full band, and the run was four weekends long with shows every Thursday, Friday, two on Saturday, and then one Sunday. I had never performed a show for longer than two weekends, so keeping the show fresh for twenty shows was new for me. During the run I can up with some tips and tricks to help make every night feel like opening night!
  1. React to everything every night like it is the first time you're hearing it. Even though you've practiced it over and over and performed it over and over, live in the moment and enjoy every second, because it's over before you know it.
  2. Keep those dance movements sharp and precise! You'll feel like you really worked hard to do even some simpler moves, but to the audience it will always look clean and fun!
  3. Sing out! Always give it your all. Like the dance movements and keeping them sharp, singing out and giving 110% makes a gratifying show.
  4. Lastly, just have fun. Like I said before, enjoying every second is important. Live it up on that stage and the audience will live it up with you!

In The Heights was my dream show, and it has truly been a performance that has made me grow as a performer. May you all have a blast and live in the moment, whether it's on stage or just living life!

photo by Kevin McNair

- Jaden Bonfietti
Incoming sophomore at Foran High School
Member of the NPT Youth Board

Sunday, June 4, 2017

From Band Concert to Broadway

From Band Concert to Broadway

 Hello, everybody! A few weeks ago, I had the absolute pleasure of seeing Panic! At the Disco, an alternative band fronted by lead singer, Brendon Urie, an insanely talented individual.
      I can confidently say that this was the best concert I have ever been to. Panic! played 32 songs, featuring songs from their newest album, “Death of A Bachelor”, along with songs from older albums, and even a few covers. Each song was accompanied by insane backdrops, lighting, fire, and at times, even “stunts”! During “This is Gospel”, Urie played the piano ABOVE the stage on a rotating platform. The craziest part of the concert was when Urie, to get back to the stage from the piano, walked through the audience while singing the concert’s featured song, “Death of A Bachelor”, hugging fans and belting out whistle tones. It was insane. Something that really touched me was what occurred during the song Girls/Girls/Boys, a song empowering to the LGBT+ community. Before the show, colored hearts were passed out to be held over our flashlights during the song. The result was a beautiful sea of rainbow light, showing support to all of the LGBT+ members of the audience. To top the night off, the concert ended with their song,”Victorious”, showering the audience in silver confetti.
      Luckily, that isn't the only time I’m getting the opportunity to see Brendon this year. Starting May 26th, Urie will be playing lead role, Charlie Price, in Kinky Boots! I will be seeing him in June, so keep a look out for a post about the show!

- Sydney Maher
Sophomore at Foran High School
Member of the NPT Youth Board

Monday, May 22, 2017

3 Things I Learned From Being A Replacement In A Show

3 Things I Learned From Being A Replacement In A Show

     Recently, I was asked to replace an ensemble member for my school's production of Once Upon A Mattress. Being added halfway through rehearsals and 2 weeks before tech week, I ended up having to learn all choreography, blocking, and music in 2 days in order to jump in as soon as possible. While it was stressful, it gave me a new perspective of working in a show, specifically in these three aspects: 
     1. Hard work gets you places. I thoroughly believe the main reason I was chosen out of 25 other students was because, after not being cast initially, I worked 10 times harder in my other theatre classes. In the director's class, I participated more and was extra prompt with assignments; in the choregrapher's class, I upped my energy and stopped making excuses; and in showcase (the program for those who don't make it into the show), despite already being the overachiever, I worked even harder by helping the teacher and making several suggestions. After being told my dance audition was the main reason I wasn't cast, I went from having dance 0 times a week to 3, along with taking an acting class. I'll be the first to admit that in the previous show, I was not the most confident or social person, which did not go unnoticed by the teachers. However, I learned that teachers also notice when you work hard. While it is certainly safer to work hard from the beginning, it is never too late to change your reputation if necessary.
     2. You are here to play a part; that does not reflect you personally. I once had an improv teacher that said "people pay to see you play a part. They don't want or expect to see your normal self; they see enough of that in real life." My biggest obstacle as a performer in previous shows was worring too much about how people viewed me. However, replacing a male in the ensemble taught me that you are easily replaceable. Nobody expected me to live up to a certain standard (or be as manly as the guy I replaced); all I had to do was learn my part and make it my own, just like everyone else. If I didn't pick up on things the others already learned, I now knew that learning them could take a day if I wanted it to. I didn't have castmates or teachers to go through this with since they were busy with the rest of the cast; I had to rely solely on my own choices.
     3. Your castmates are always there to lend a hand. The first thing I did after being cast was go to the dance captain and other good dancers for help. However, the cast has its own work to do, and doesn't have the time to teach every number in 2 days. Stressing out because I knew it was my responsibility to learn and I couldn't keep relying on teachers, I hesitantly talked to castmates about it. I am usually very shy about talking to people I don't know very well, so I was surprised when everyone I approached was more than happy to explain things or teach me choreo or blocking. It became even clearer to me that an ensemble is a unified group, and once you open yourself up to others, it becomes easier to work with them. Being the new member made it easier to interact with people onstage since I was required to improvise with whoever I was put with. Although I won't always be the replacement, it helped me become more comfortable making decisions and interacting with others in future shows.
     It is not everyday that you get the opportunity to be in a cast if your audition wasn't where it should be. It was surreal but so beneficial to realize and learn from my mistakes and then get to fix them. However, things don't normally work out that way, and despite this miracle, it has become more important to me than ever to work hard so your audition is amazing - take classes, be the overachiever, and practice. Only you can give yourself the help you need to become a better performer.

- Julia Levine
Sophomore at Trumbull High School/Regional Center for the Arts
Co-Chair of the NPT Youth Board

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Top 4 Tips for Aspiring Actors

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I was recently in Trumbull High School's production of Seussical the Musical. It is such a fun show for people of all ages, and I had an amazing experience playing a Bird Girl. However, putting on an incredible show was not always easy or enjoyable. It came with a lot of hard work, but it made the end result even more gratifying. Here are some lessons I learned working on Seussical the past two months that I believe every person in theater can benefit from!

1) Make it your own: When you are cast as a certain part in a show, you may struggle to fully immerse yourself into that given character. This may lead you to watch YouTube videos of other productions in order to copy exactly how your character is supposed to act. However, your directors and producers would not have casted you if they didn't think you were capable of performing that role! Don't stress about fitting your character into a perfect mold. Instead, portray your own authentic interpretation of the character. Your directors will always be there to guide you and tell you what works/what doesn't.
2) Be open to criticism: Everyone makes mistakes, although it would be convenient if we didn't. Nobody gets everything right on the first try, not even famous award-winning actors and actresses. Try not to be offended or frustrated if your directors give you critiques on how to make your performance better. These corrections are not coming from a malicious place- your directors simply want to put on the best show possible. Listen to your directors, have a positive attitude, and try changing your performance based on their suggestions the next time around. This will not only please your directors, but you will feel rewarded when you improve.
3) Practice makes perfect: You have most likely heard this rule before, and it is pretty self-explanatory. No matter what you do in life, greatness cannot be achieved without hard work and dedication. Don't slack off, and encourage yourself to keep reviewing your material. This will have a very positive result in the end.
4) Have fun: As actors, we are constantly stressing about a variety of things- remembering our blocking, memorizing our lines, learning our music, and impressing both our directors/producers and our audiences. Juggling all of these different things may cause us to forget to simply enjoy ourselves! If you keep a positive mindset while onstage, your energy will be reflected to everyone around you. Arguably one of the most important parts of theater is to uplift people, and you won't fail to do so if you just have fun!

Promo video for Trumbull High School's production of Seussical

- Sarah Giaquinto
Junior at Trumbull High School
Member of the NPT Youth Board

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)