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Stepinac Students Shine On Stage With New Theater Lab

Left to right are the three Stepinac Theater Lab pioneers Nicholas Tabio, Christian Prato and Kevin Ulrich.
Left to right are the three Stepinac Theater Lab pioneers Nicholas Tabio, Christian Prato and Kevin Ulrich. Photo Credit: Contributed

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Since 1949, Stepinac High School’s Drama Club has showcased the talents of students and been responsible for producing Emmy and Academy Award winning actors.

In an effort to inspire a love of the theater arts among high school students, Stepinac’s Drama Club has launched a new initiative—the Theater Lab—in which the students star, direct, design and produce a production entirely of their own creation. In February, audiences had the opportunity to see the results of the students’ efforts during two riveting performances of 12 Angry Men.

Frank Portanova, Vice Principal for Academics and Curriculum who serves as Director of the Drama Club, says that the seed for the Theater Lab was planted four years ago when a freshman student—Christian Prato of White Plains—expressed a “true and interest for directing, a talent he then went on to hone over the next few years as an assistant to me.”

Drama Club member Kevin Ulrich of White Plains and junior Nicholas Tabio of Croton-on-Hudson created an ambitious plan of their own: start their own theater company. “The idea for the Theatre Lab crystallized because we had the complementary talents and burning desire of students who wanted the opportunity to turn their vision of a play into a reality,” explained Portanova, adding: ”The Theater Lab concept would provide them with the first-hand experience of executing and managing a complex array of activities and tasks entailed in successfully mounting a theatrical production.”

The decision was made for the Theater Lab to stage 12 Angry Men as its first production with Prato taking the helm as director. Joining him in the creative enterprise were Ulrich and Tabio who served as assistant directors and assistant producers. Ulrich also played the role of Juror 3, one of the key acting roles in of the classic courtroom drama.

Prato, who will graduate in May, applied to colleges to further his studies to become a professional director. Ulrich, also a senior, applied to major in acting. But, before heading to college in the fall, Ulrich will team up with Tabio, an junior, to prepare the first production of their nascent theater company which will be housed in the Play Group Theater in White Plains.

But, for now the three Theater Lab pioneers— Prato, Ulrich and Tabio— are busy rehearsing for their next big moment on the Major Bowes stage as members of the cast of the rousing musical, Sister Act, that the Stepinac Drama Club will present at 7:30 PM, Fridays and Saturdays, April 29- April 30 and May 6-7 and at 2:00 PM, Sunday, May 8.

Ticket prices are $22 for adults and $18 for children under the age of 12 and seniors. The May 6 performance will feature “Nun Night” when all religious nuns can pre-order one complimentary ticket -- based on availability. Tickets can be ordered by calling 914-946-4800, ext. 200.

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