Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Dramatic cause — Theater group offers scholarships for young actors

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

Acting up. Now it’s a good thing. Triumvirate Theatre is offering a unique opportunity for students with a flair for the dramatic to have a steady outlet to indulge in their talents and make money doing it.

The organization is accepting applications for Class Act, a troupe of elite student dramatists in grades seven through 12 who will sing, dance and act their way to college scholarships.

Up to 10 students will be accepted into the drama troupe, which will stage three to five productions a year, giving students a chance to develop their theatrical skills and earn scholarship money.

“We decided to do this because I wanted to see a core group of kids that could put on high-quality performances,” said Joe Rizzo, with Triumvirate Theatre. “And I was looking for kids that this is the thing they want to do more than anything else, and I thought they should be rewarded for that monetarily. That’s why we have the scholarship.”

Class Act students will earn money from every performance in which they participate. Half the proceeds of every Class Act show will be divided evenly among the performers and go into an interest-bearing account. Once students graduate and go on to some form of postsecondary education, whether it’s college or vocational training, their portion of the money will be forwarded to their school of choice as a scholarship. Students will get an equal portion of the proceeds of each show they participate in, whether they had a lead role or ran the light board, Rizzo said.

“The idea is that every show will have every kid in it, unless a kid can’t be in it for whatever reason,” Rizzo said. “We’re assuming that this group of kids, this troupe is their priority; it’s what they do.”

The amount of time required will be comparable to participating in a school sport. What they get out of it should far exceed what they put in, Rizzo said.

“The performing arts is lot more than just standing on the stage and doing a soliloquy from Shakespeare. Kids learn how to present themselves, which is always important in job interviews, and it helps them to teach other people different things. It improves their writing, it improves their reading, and you could even show statistically it improves their testing,” Rizzo said.

“And a kid doesn’t have to go on to be some professional actor to have the arts enrich their lives. There are a lot of people in our community that every year get together with friends and do community theater. I don’t think that anything the kids learn in this troupe is going to go to waste.”

For Triumvirate, Class Act will take performance capabilities to another level.

“With this particular group, if auditions go the way I hope they go, I think they can do just about anything. What we’re basically looking at is a group of 10 kids that are all triple threats — they can sing, dance and act,” Rizzo said.

With a stable group of talented, dedicated actors, productions can go together much more quickly and smoothly than school shows usually do, Rizzo said. A big musical may take eight to 10 weeks to stage as a school program. Class Act should be able to put on an elaborate show in just three weeks.

Rizzo already has his eye on some ambitious productions for the group to tackle, including “My Fair Lady,” and “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.”

Class Act performers will also be expected to participate in Triumvirate’s Drop of the Hat Players, which provides free entertainment at fundraisers for community needs, such as children with serious illnesses or families who have lost their homes to fire.

“The work they do with the charitable arm of Triumvirate will help them apply for other scholarships because a lot of scholarships today are based on service,” Rizzo said.

Class Act applications can be printed from Triumvirate’s Web site, They must be filled out, including an essay, and mailed by the postmark deadline of Oct. 31. The audition process will be held Nov. 4 to 8.
More information about Class Act can be found on Triumvirate’s Web site, or call Rizzo at 776-1163.

“The reason I wanted to do this is I would like a crackerjack troupe to work with. I think the results will be amazing. And Triumvirate’s philosophy has always been about helping kids and using our resources to send kids to college. We’ve been doing it for years,” Rizzo said.

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