The catchy tunes. The flashy costumes. The over-the-top performances. Musicals are so easy to love.
But they can be pricey and labor intensive to produce. Luckily, before they graduated, Wheaton alums Austin Simko ’09 and Alexander Grover ’09 worked to ensure that Wheaton students could be involved in a musical every year. Previously, musicals were produced at Wheaton every three or four years, with the support of an endowed fund.
Teaming up with students, faculty and staff members, Simko (the 2008–2009 Student Government Association president) and Grover (former leader of The Gentlemen Callers) helped to forge a partnership between Wheaton and the local Triboro Musical Theatre last year. This January for the second consecutive year, college students and the Attleboro, Mass.–based theatre troupe presented a musical and continued to strengthen the partnership in which both sides benefit.
This year’s musical, Curtains, was performed at the Weber Theatre. It featured eight Wheaton students, as well as four alums—Katherine Anderson ’10, Shannon Coco ’11, Hilary Emerson ’10, Raul Gil ’12, David Lopes ’10, Allison McMaster ’10, Ted Nesi ’07, Amanda Nelson ’07, Laura Norton ’12, Tom Norton ’09 (in the orchestra), Laura Peters ’10 and Jen Valentino ’09.
Anderson, a music major who is the liaison between Wheaton and Triboro theatre, said she has enjoyed the collaboration. She starred as Niki Harris, a young ingénue who falls in love with a detective played by Nesi.
“Working with the Triboro theatre, you are inundated with the most rich and fulfilling musical theatre experience possible,” she said. “On top of that, you are guaranteed the company of interesting, responsible, caring and all-around wonderful people.”
Vivian Humphrey, the artistic/administrative director of both the Triboro Youth Theatre and the Triboro Musical Theatre, directed and produced Curtains. She said that she has welcomed the opportunity to tap into the skills of students who, in addition to acting, have also filled roles as costume designer, stage manager and orchestra member.
“For some Wheaton students this is the second Triboro Musical Theatre show they have participated in, and I have seen their growth and their understanding being brought to their performances,” said Humphrey. “They accepted any challenge we threw at them, and met and surpassed these challenges with enthusiasm.”
Several Wheaton students and alums had been involved with the Triboro theatre long before the partnership was created, including Nesi, who was the male lead in Curtains.
He had been acting with the Triboro Youth Theatre since he was in sixth grade. Playing the raincoat-wearing singing detective in Curtains was a dream come true for him because it was the first time he got to perform on stage at Wheaton.
“Triboro Youth Theatre is one of the small number of institutions that shaped who I am—Wheaton being another,” said Nesi, a reporter for Providence Business News. “It’s a treat that I can continue to be a part of it. Plus, let’s be honest—I’m a ham and I’ll take any excuse to perform.
“What was wonderful about this collaboration was the way both sides could bring different things to the partnership to create something bigger,” he said. “It would have been difficult for either side to put on Curtains alone, but by coming together we were able to do something great for the audience and the actors.
“Triboro brought its years of experience, professional staff and its company of actors. Wheaton provided the theatre, rehearsal space and other support, and showed once again how committed it is to collaborating with and supporting the community it calls home.” —Ted Nesi '07