The Sky’s the Limit: “Infinite” Breaks the Mold
The VPA Music Department’s final music showcase, “Infinite,” served up a seemingly endless array of fantastic music, most playing on the theme of boundlessness. From an energetic orchestral “Star Wars” theme song, to a roof raising version of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird,” the show was nonstop awe.
VPA Music co-chair Alex Zickafoose dreamed up “Infinite” starting back in his interview for the position at Booker High School. That was five years ago. Since arriving, he’s infused the Music Department with unique showcases that shatter traditional high school recital norms. His concerts feel like events, free from the clumsy static staging of a typical high school music show.
With showcases spanning rock, folk, orchestra, jazz, Dixie, symphonic band and more, the VPA Music Department has come to signify endless surprise.
“Infinite” is a fine production in this mold. Its three-stage layout rendered transitions seamless. Music flowed from the stage like silk from a magician’s hat. At times, staging allowed music to envelop the audience, with action on the stage and choral backups literally coming from behind the crowd.
The result: a thoroughly engaging and impressive achievement showcasing the infinite talents of our VPA Music students and teachers.
Alex Zickafoose directed “Infinite,” with Lizzi Nehls tech directing.
Keys to Success: Caleb Horner Wins Piano Award
Sophomore Caleb Horner took the top award in the 10th grade division of the Suncoast Music Scholarship competition on April 23. The prize includes a $600 scholarship and an invitation to play at the winner’s recital at First Presbyterian Church on May 14, 2022, at 3 p.m. It’s a free recital of 8 winners.
The Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota and The Sarasota Music Club have supported music education through the Suncoast Music Scholarships since 2016. Booker VPA musicians are often selected as one of the 8 winners in the competition. Past winners include Skyler Miller (2016), James Boorman (2018), and Colin Leonard, Leela Sundaram, and Danae Tran (2021).
Abbey Holdway Performs at Volunteer Event
Theatre senior Abbey Holdway was invited to perform at the SCS Volunteer and Business Partners Appreciation Event on April 27. She sang Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love of All” to a spellbound crowd. Among the packed house were principals from all district schools, Superintendent Brennan Asplen, school board members, and other district leadership.
While Abbey wowed with her voice, BHS senior Jenna Logan won the Youth Volunteer of the Year award for the entire district and was recognized at the event.
Here’s a peak inside the progress of the new performing arts center!
Get Ready for “A Comedy Tonight!”
The musical, a hilarious and spirited tale of a slave’s attempt to win his own freedom by helping his master woo the girl next door, was inspired by farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus. It features music and lyrics by the late, great Stephen Sondheim and a book by Burt Shevelove and Larry Gelbart.
“Forum” is VPA Theatre Department chair Sunny Smith’s musical directorial debut at the school. She said one reason the department chose this musical now is as an antidote to the gloom the world has faced in the past few years.
“Ending our year this way, with a great escape, is such a gift for the kids,” Smith said, noting that she performed in the musical as a grad student and enjoyed the reprieve from school pressures.
“Forum” is the first VPA musical to be performed at the Sarasota Opera House since the new VPA Theatre was completed in the 1990s. Prior to that, the Opera House had been the home of the Booker VPA musicals.
The last time the VPA Theatre Department staged “Forum” was in 1993, featuring Sam Mossler. Mossler died in October 2020; friends and alum of the VPA Theatre program have begun a scholarship fund to preserve his legacy.
“Forum” will feature music direction by Johnnie Mnich, choreography by Cynthia Ashford, set design by Caleb Carrier, and costumes by Heather Clarke.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
May 6-7 | 8 p.m. @ The Sarasota Opera House
Hang on to your tunics! This madcap farcical tale of a slave attempting to win his freedom by helping his master woo the girl next door is a hilarious adventure of epic proportion. Forum is one of Sondheim’s most celebrated and popular musicals, winning several Tony awards and enjoying numerous revivals and screen remakes.
Reel Life: Annual Film & Animation Showcase
May 17 | 7 p.m. @ Burns Court Cinema
The VPA Film & Animation Annual Showcase will entertain and edify with screen stories that shine a light on life as our students see it. They will also offer a glimpse of the day-to-day process students use to bring their art to life. The showcase is a mix of live-action, animated shorts, and documentary work. This screening opportunity is made possible thanks to The Sarasota Film Society.