Last summer, Broadway actor and Novato native Jim Poulos joined the staff of Marin Summer Theater, providing a special treat for young performing artists. For 2012, the seasonal theater has another surprise in the form of Drew Gasparini, a Novato-bred composer, musician, singer and lyricist.
Gasparini, a 2004 San Marin High graduate who has been living in New York the past few years, will join the 2012 MST company as musical director for the production of Spring Awakening, which performs July 5-8 at the Novato Theater Playhouse.
Gasparini was active in the local music community throughout his high school career. Inspired by his parents — his mom, Kele, is a music teacher and his dad, George, is a drummer — Drew pursued music as a career and majored in vocal technique and musicianship at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles. He played a steady schedule of live gigs, including opening for Jason Mraz and the Plain White T's.
His first musical, Crazy Just Like Me, drew widespread critical acclaim. It won “Best of Fest” at the 2011 New York Musical Theater Festival along with an honorable mention for Best Book, and it is scheduled to open off-Broadway in fall 2012.
Due to the sensitive subject matter in Spring Awakening, only students over 18 or those with specific parental permission may audition for the MST production.
“Spring Awakening is about young people dealing with grown-up issues,” said Patrick Nims, MST’s artistic director. “Teens in transition from youth to adulthood face pressures that are the same today as they were in 1891 Germany. This show speaks with the voice of youth about love, longing, frustration and the challenges that they face.”
Spring Awakening is the winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Although cast ages are limited for the MST show, any student may audition for MST’s two other 2012 productions of The Importance of Being Earnest and Legally Blonde, The Musical.
The Importance of Being Earnest, subtitled A Trivial Comedy for Serious People, will be MST’s second production and is considered by many to be the wittiest play ever written in the English language. It revolves around the most ingenious case of "manufactured" mistaken identity ever put into a play. Two flippant young men, in order to impress their beloveds, pretend that their names are Ernest, which both young ladies believe confers magical qualities on the possessor.
Legally Blonde is about a sorority girl from Los Angeles who is dumped by her longtime boyfriend for a more serious girl. She then hits the books and gains admission to Harvard Law School to prove to him that she is the girl for him.
Marin Summer Theater kicks off its 2012 season with auditions on March 24 and 31 at San Marin High School. Any student actors, singers or dancers between the ages of 13 and 23 are eligible to audition. Designers, technicians and musicians are invited submit applications by March 31.
A free audition workshop will be held on March 17 from 10 a.m. to noon, also at San Marin. Attendees will get to meet MST staff and learn monologues, songs and dance that they can use in their auditions. Applications and audition appointment requests are available on the MST website.
Participation in MST is free for all musicians, technicians and designers. For on-stage performers, acceptance is subject to audition and a tuition fee of $350. Scholarships are available. Auditions are by appointment only. Performers who are unable to attend auditions may submit a DVD recording.
Students may apply for one, two or all three shows. For performers, the tuition fee remains the same regardless of the number of shows they are cast in.
Nims said he has visited Bay Area schools this winter to present a free theater improvisation workshop.
“I am continually inspired by the work our performance arts teachers are doing," Nims said. "We are blessed by the talent and dedication of our local teachers. Without the foundation and skills that the kids learn during the year, MST would not be the program it is. I’m happy to do anything I can to help kids connect their passions to the arts.”
This will be MST’s first season operating as an independent nonprofit after working under the umbrella of San Marin Music Boosters for the past three years. San Marin Music Boosters and San Marin High will continue to partner with MST to provide opportunities for local theater students. Nims said MST is indebted to the boosters and the school for unwavering support.
If you would like MST to visit your school, e-mail email@example.com.