Corbett Prep Thespians Shine
in Original Musical, Competitions
Middle School actors from Corbett Prep find success in thespian competitions.
Dec. 18, 2014 (TAMPA, Fla.) – Corbett Prep Thespian Troupe 88622 is off to a stellar start this year, kicking off its competition season with top-notch performances and the premiere of an original musical.
Corbett Preparatory School of IDS faced middle schools from the Tampa Bay area as far south as Sarasota at the District Individual Events Competition at Blake High School on Nov. 22. Of the 27 pieces the Corbett Prep student thespians entered, 18 earned the highest rating of Superior and six earned rating of Excellent.
Judges also award first- and second-place honors — known as Critic’s Choice and Alternate Critic’s Choice — in each of 13 categories. Corbett Prep students won seven such honors. Students achieved Critic’s Choice in the categories of ensemble acting, improvisation, duet musical and small group musical as well as Alternate Critic’s Choice for small group musical, large group musical and duet acting.
Troupe 88622 is under the direction of Corbett Prep teachers Barbara McBride, Jeanne Rivera, Seth Travaglino and Michael Vokoun.
Earlier in November, the troupe won a Superior rating at a district one-act competition for its debut of the musical Understudies. The show was written especially for Corbett Prep as a collaborative effort between Corbett Prep parent Craig Sobel and Blake High School teacher Blake Conley.
Conley said he and Sobel knew the directors would make students’ acting, dancing and singing “pop,” and they wanted to ensure their material matched students’ abilities. They concentrated on writing believable characters, beautiful and catchy music and a relatable storyline about persevering in the face of difficult odds.
Understudies features a play-within-a-play format, which Conley said provided an opportunity for a diverse collection of songs, ranging from a dance number to a ballad to a bluesy duet. Travaglino also came up with a way to showcase the cast’s talents in the finale by having the students play instruments and accompany themselves as they sang.
“It’s really incredible to see a bunch of 11- to 14-year-olds empowered to play, vocalize and dance their own original song,” Craig Sobel said.
Acting in an original musical encouraged the Corbett Prep cast to take risks. They had to make their own artistic choices and create characters from scratch, rather than relying on YouTube videos or celebrity performances for inspiration — a tall order, Sobel said.
“I know few adults who could do it as well as the kids have done,” he said.
Travaglino said the one-act and individual event competitions challenged students to strive for their personal bests, and the students delivered. The high scores and awards are gratifying, he said, but he was even more impressed with how the students handled themselves at the competitions. Older siblings supported younger ones, and students even praised other schools for jobs well done.
“It shows what a beautiful theater family we have,” Travaglino said.