Nancy Sasso Janis
The Drama Club at Kaynor Technical High School in Waterbury has many obstacles to overcome in order to present their shows. While they have the support of the administration, limited funding and other challenges do not make it easy. In 2012, I remember that Kaynor won the "Against All Odds" honor at the Seven Angel's Halo Awards.
When Kaynor's Drama Club came into existence ten years ago, they had access to an auditorium with a stage. Then construction began on the new school building and they were forced to take their show on the road, first to the Mattatuck Museum and the next year to the school's gym with less than optimum acoustics.
That was when the group decided to build their own stage that could be assembled in the atrium in the middle of school. Through fundraisers they were able to acquire microphones and lights, and this year there is a dramatic change to the space with the addition of curtains, thanks to contributions made by the staff and the work of the Fashion Department.
Director Lynne Gannon has wanted to do '13 The Musical' for several years, but she knew that the music would be challenging. Kaynor has a music instructor, but no theater department, so the production staff for their annual shows are all volunteers. Fortunately, Ms. Gannon managed to find Matt Durland of Wesleyan University and Goodspeed (where '13' was produced by Michael P. Price after it was commissioned in LA) to serve as her music director and he "worked tirelessly with the singers to get the absolute best from them."
Now '13' is supposed to be about a group of middle schoolers, but the director was sure that these high school students could relate to the story's issues and themes. I thought this cast of 14 Kaynor students played younger very well and clearly worked hard to pull off a show that is bigger than what they usually produce.
The program gave no details about the talented students in the cast other than their names. Tatyanna Pierre was the sole member of the company. Samantha LeBlanc played Molly, Jewels Meira was Simon, Michaela Hernandez played Richie. Alyssa Casson was Charlotte, Bekka Bethin was Eddie, and Tyler Rivera was Malcolm. Ashley Priest played Cassie and had a solo in the final number.
The lovely Ilea Blocker was the much desired Kendra and Nasser Rivera was ultra cool as Brett. Emily Diaz was the bossy Lucy and Jacob Bethin acted well as the handicapped Archie with an agenda.
Miranda Mansolf sang very well and had great comic timing in the role of Patrice. Chris Pilitowski nailed the leading role of Evan; this young man had such an earnest singing voice and his acting was strong.
The band led by the music director was excellent, if a bit too loud. Dan Burke played percussion, Zac Koral and Erik Durr were on guitar and Daniel Varghese on bass. I am pretty sure that Mr. Durland played keyboard.
Ms. Gannon was assisted by Chelsea Fortier. Jennifer Cummings brought her theatrical experience to the role of production assistant and her son Nolan was indispensable in his sound/lighting execution. Erin Gannon Guerrera helped out her mom as choreographer, and Ilea Blocker was in charge of costumes. There was a large crew helping out backstage.
In her curtain speech, the director specifically asked audience members to be considerate of others if they felt compelled to take pictures or videos in the small theater. The parents around me ignored her plea and made me grateful for venues that ban photos and video altogether. And one other theater note: If you spill your entire bottle of water on a level floor, you might want to consider letting those around you that they should pick up anything they might have placed under their chair. That concludes my rant.
Congratulations to everyone involved in this uplifting and fun production of '13,' and kudos to all the adults who volunteered their time to get it done. Kaynor does it again against all odds.