Thespian alums, Broadway pros celebrate school theatre

Thespian alums, Broadway pros celebrate school theatre

September 23, 2015

A company of Broadway players who are Thespian alumni relived some of their earliest onstage experiences and celebrated how school theatre had shaped their lives in the International Thespian Society’s inaugural Broadway Back to School event Sunday evening at Michael Feinstein’s 54 Below in New York City.

The event was a celebration of the value of theatre programs in schools, a kickoff for the establishment of the Thespian Society’s Alumni Council, and a benefit to support theatre education for underserved students and schools.

Performers in the cabaret-style show included Stephanie D’Abruzzo, nominated for a Tony Award for her work in Avenue Q; Blake Daniel (Spring Awakening); Chad Kimball, nominated for a best actor Tony for his work in Memphis; Michael Mahany (Wicked); Alli Mauzey (Wicked, Hairspray); Nicolette Robinson (The Affair); writer, actor, and radio host Seth Rudetsky; Carla Stickler (Wicked); stage and television (Ugly Betty) actor Michael Urie; and Marla Louissaint, a 2015 graduate of The Beacon School who won this year’s National High School Musical Theatre Award for best actress. The alum company was joined on stage by five current Beacon School Thespians: Kenneth An, Leslie Gaines, Atticus Koizumi, Leo Miranda, and Eva Wertimer.

Among the highlights of the celebratory evening: a bewigged Michael Urie, in full costume as Mozart, reprising a monologue from Amadeus he had learned in high school; Stephanie D’Abruzzo displaying her ITS membership card and certificate, Thespian T-shirt, and a copy of Dramatics that featured her on the cover as an Avenue Q Tony nominee; Seth Rudetsky “deconstructing” (and skillfully lip-synching) an audio recording he had unearthed of him singing as a child; Alli Mauzey spotting Gai Jones, who had directed her in Annie at age eight, in the audience.

Susan Blackwell, who hosted the event with [title of show] co-conspirator Hunter Bell and had lamented that she had not had an opportunity to become a member of the Thespian Society when she was in high school, was surprised with an on-the-spot induction into Krista Carson Elhai’s Thespian troupe at Claremont (California) High School.

“We wanted to feature working professionals, Broadway actors and actresses, and remind people that they came from great high school programs, and that part of their journey included for many of them state and international Thespian conferences,” Bell said. “Their time as Thespians and in their high school program laid the groundwork for several Tony-nominated performers on that stage.

“And the other side of the evening was to raise money and awareness so that places that don’t have Thespian troupes, that don’t have theatre at all, can get it.

“It was a celebration for the folks who could be in the room, and it sent a flare up to say the Broadway community is connected to EdTA and supports the mission, and I hope that we’ll continue to build on that relationship in the future.”

See a full photo gallery of the event on the International Thespian Society Facebook page!