August 10, 2006

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All theater, all summer
Southern NH theater majors form new summer repertory at Derryfield
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

The new Derryfield Repertory Theatre actors are passionate about musical theater, which is good because they do it all day, almost every day, together. Age 15 through 19, most members of this summer cast are also pursuing college degrees in performing arts.

This new company based at the private Manchester day school serves several purposes, including providing “non-professional theater at a professional level” for New Hampshire audiences, explains music director and Derryfield teacher Laurel Devino.

“This is not about everyone having a chance. This is about putting on the best show possible,” Tyree Robinson, 18, of Manchester said, explaining how they differ from the community theater. The Derryfield grad will attend Carnegie Mellon for musical theater in the fall.

None of the 12 actors auditioned; they were handpicked by Devino and director Scott Severance, two time-NH Theater Awards Best Director and former Peacock Players director, as much for their being “good solid citizens” as for talent.

These actors are expected to “check their ego at the door ... I feel that’s the only way someone can survive in the real working world of theater,” Severance said.

Having a talented, experienced group was partly why Devino and Severance chose Godspell as their first show, which ran at the end of July. The ensemble piece keeps all actors on stage throughout most of the show, and is serious enough to showcase talent rather than comedic gags.

They close the season with Little Shop of Horrors, which they have three weeks to rehearse before it opens Thursday, Aug. 17, and runs through Saturday, Aug. 19, at 7:30 p.m.

They rehearse at night, and they put their theater skills to work during the day as counselors for the new Derryfield theater camp, which means they are together from 8:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. most days. The often get together for “fun day” Saturdays as well.

“The thing about a life in theater is you kind of have to make your family where you are,” Elizabeth DeBold said, and luckily the group clicked. The Derryfield grad starts her second year at Skidmore in the fall, considering theater or music along with other majors.

Representatives of The Derryfield School, looking to expand the use of their campus, brought up the idea of drama camp to Devino in the fall. Devino and Severance took it one step further, turning the counselors into a repertory company. That way, not only would the campers get the benefit of experience (Trever Buteau, 17, a Hollis-Brookline High senior has been in 25 Peacock Players productions, and playing Seymour in Little Shop will be his 35th show), but counselors could perform and get paid to work in the field they are studying.

About a tenth of Derryfield graduates study performing arts in college, Devino said. Severance’s alums have landed at Julliard and the Cincinnati Conservatory. “His protégées are at all the best schools,” she said. Even the band members study music in strong programs at Berklee, New York University and others. An impromtu run-through of “Bless the Lord My Soul” showed off the rep’s quality.

Already, Annaleigh Kress, 19, said she’s been able to put her freshman year courses at New York University in theater education to use at the camp. The North Andover, Mass., student choreographed both of the rep’s shows and is earning teacher observation hours in the program.

A new program isn’t always easy to fill. “Everybody and their brother runs a summer theater camp,” said Severance, who ran Peacock’s for years. Derryfield attracted 12 campers to its first two-week session and 26 to its second. He hopes word of mouth helps them stand out next year. They aim for 45 to 50 kids per session.

The rest of the rep
Devino’s daughter Stephanie, 17, is a member and will study graphic arts in college, and put her skills to work for posters and scenic paintings for the sets. Ian Mazurek, 18, of Nashua, played Jesus in Godspell, and graduated from the Walnut Hill School for performing arts in Natick, Mass. He will major in musical theater at the University of Michigan. Lindsey Mckitterick, 19, of Londonderry, majors in TV and minors in theater at Fairfield. Katie Sexton, 18, of Merrimack, will major in musical theater at Plymouth State. Derryfield grad Chiara Arcidy, 17, will attend Columbia; Jake Bencal, 15, at Londonderry is an “amazing tenor” and Derryfield grad Alex Rolocek, 18, of Bedford will attend Ithaca to major in musical theater in the fall.

Jake Keefe, 18, rocked his Derryfield connections to get a month-long gig in L.A. as a production assistant on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this summer. (Alum Sarah Silverman is dating Kimmel). Keefe heads to Syracuse in the fall to study acting


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Wake up to ‘night Mother