Homegrown actors, dancers and singers take Carbondale stage for Thunder River Theatre Company’s wintertime cabaret
IF YOU GO…
WHAT: “Home for the Holidays”
WHERE: Thunder River Theatre Company, 67 Promenade, Carbondale
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
PRICE: $25 general admission; $140 premium cabaret tables
For the first time in years, four young local talents will take the stage together this holiday weekend for Thunder River Theatre Company’s latest production, “Home for the Holidays.”
After being contacted by TRTC’s executive artistic director, Corey Simpson, local performer and director Nina Gabianelli and musical director David Dyer brainstormed the idea for the special holiday cabaret show.
“I made the suggestion – why don’t we use kids that are coming home for the holidays,” director Nina Gabianelli said.
Part of the TRTC’s Diva Cabaret Series, “Home for the Holidays,” stars Roaring Fork Valley natives Becca Maniscalchi, Talitha Jones, Lyon Hamill, and Izzi Rojo.
Gabianelli handpicked the cast, members of which are all currently at different levels in different professional theater programs across the country.
“We have dance majors, acting majors and musical theater majors,” Gabianelli added. “All of them grew up here in the valley, performing from the time they were little.”
The college-age talents will be performing classic Christmas tunes and Broadway hits in TRTC’s intimate black box theatre this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“I’m really grateful that I have the opportunity to follow in my mom’s footsteps,” Carbondale native Becca Maniscalchi said.
After receiving a phone call from Gabianelli, Maniscalchi jumped at the chance to join the cast.
Maniscalchi is fresh off walking in her graduation ceremony last weekend at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, where she earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Dance Performance.
“Getting the phone call to have the chance to work with her directly was kind of shocking,” Maniscalchi said. “Nina and my mom worked together for years.”
Becca’s mother, Julie Maniscalchi, is a long-time performer in the valley who works at the Glenwood Vaudeville Revue.
“I grew up watching them in rehearsals. I love Nina. She is like my adopted aunt,” Maniscalchi said.
The ties run deep for the cast of “Home for the Holidays.”
Like the other three cast members, Talitha Jones, who grew up in Woody Creek and is currently a junior at the Manhattan School of Music in New York majoring in Musical Theater, is happy to be home for the holidays.
“I was really excited when Nina contacted me,” Jones said.
For Jones, this will be the first chance in a few years that she will perform in front of a crowd in her home state.
“I haven’t actually had a chance to perform in the Valley since I graduated high school,” she added.
During the first few rehearsals, the former Valley residents have been reminiscing about working together as children.
“All of us used to do children’s theater,” Jones said.
Jones remembers fondly dancing together in an ensemble of a children’s theater show when they were around 6 and 7.
“Now, we’re all doing our individual things and getting our degrees,” Jones added. “It has come full circle, for us to come back and perform together again.”
For Lyon Hamill, a 2017 Aspen High School graduate, it’s fun to come back home to work with valley veterans like Nina and David, and reconnect with his peers and old friends.
“The best part is coming back together and sharing our experiences at school … “Building off of the experience, and being able to do it with people we have been working together for a long time, Hamill said.
Hamill is a sophomore majoring in acting, with minors in political science and musical theater at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
The youngest of the group, Izzi Rojo, a freshmen at Oklahoma City University studying acting, is all smiles as she runs through rehearsal for this weekend’s show.
“I’m kind of the baby of the group,” Rojo said. “It was intimidating at first, but all three of them are real sweet people.”
The Carbondale native, and 2018 graduate of Cornerstone Classical School, is excited for her first production with TRTC.
“I’m really excited for people to see how we’ve all grown,” Rojo said. “And, also to hear our stories outside the valley and what we’ve been working on and where we are headed.”
Rojo is looking forward to her duet with Talitha Jones.
“It’s a really funny piece. I’m excited to share it with people,” Rojo added.
The limited holiday engagement “Home for the Holidays,” opens Friday at 7 p.m. The three-day run will continue with a 7 p.m. show Saturday and a final show Sunday at 2 p.m.
General admission tickets are $25 each; Premium Cabaret Tables, which includes seating for four and a bottle of wine or champagne, will are $140.
For more information, call 970-963-8200 or visit TRTC’s website thunderrivertheatre.com
“It’s a fun show – a chance to hear some great four-part arrangements of some holiday classics,” Gabianelli added.
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