ULS student selected for International Thespian Festival

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 12, 2017

 University Liggett School junior Antonio Cipriano, a member of the school’s Troupe No. 5253, has been selected to participate in the 2017 International Thespian Festival June 19-24 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

University Liggett School junior Antonio Cipriano, a member of the school’s Troupe No. 5253, has been selected to participate in the 2017 International Thespian Festival June 19-24 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Photo provided by University Liggett School

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — One University Liggett School student will give his regards to Broadway.

ULS junior Antonio Cipriano, a member of the school’s Troupe No. 5253, has been selected to participate in the 2017 International Thespian Festival June 19-24 in Lincoln, Nebraska. He reportedly is among a select group of 28 students — representing 13 states and Canada — chosen as the cast and crew.

Tony Award-winning composers and collaborators Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, set to return to Broadway in New York City this season with their new musical, “Anastasia,” will be honored by the students at this year’s festival. Ahrens and Flaherty will work with the students to produce the show “We Tell the Story: A Celebration of the Works of Ahrens & Flaherty.”

The performance will offer highlights from Ahrens and Flaherty shows including “Once on This Island,” “Ragtime,” “Seussical,” “The Glorious Ones” and more. The students will work alongside Broadway talent who will help the students shape, stage, rehearse and produce the show in only 48 hours.

“They do it in a theater that has 3,000 seats for two shows,” Cipriano, 16, said. He will receive the songs in advance to better prepare for his time at the festival.

The Educational Theater Association, a professional organization for theater educators, oversees the International Thespian Society, which sponsors the International Thespian Festival each year. The weeklong festival includes solo and ensemble events, selected shows, and a national main stage cast for the opening event. When Cipriano learned he was selected to attend the festival, he pretty much burst into song.

“I started singing when I heard,” he said. “I have wanted to do this since my freshman year.”

Cipriano is a fan of Ahrens and Flaherty’s work and talent.

“They have written some great shows,” the ULS student said. “I really love them.”

Cipriano joined Liggett’s theater group during his freshman year. Phillip Moss, chair of  Liggett’s Department of Creative and Performing Arts, said Cipriano has been in every Liggett theatrical production and music concert offered ever since. He has been cast in several productions, including “Young Frankenstein,” “Arsenic and Old Lace,” “Orphan Train” and “Rumors.”

“Antonio is by far one of the most talented performers we have had at our school. He is a gifted vocalist and excels in bringing characterizations to life through thoughtful musical interpretation. He has strong physical skills in both dance and comic movement, but excels in making connection with others on stage,” Moss said via email.

“In addition to talent, Antonio has a remarkably likable personality. He gets along with everyone on the set and quickly becomes the glue that holds a group together. As he grows through our program, his leadership, focus and intensity continues to impress both the adults as well as his peers in our community,” Moss said. “We have had a number of talented young performers come through our school. Some have continued to grow and are now working professionals in film, television and on stage. It is not an understatement or over-glorification to suggest that Antonio is on track to be one of those who reaches great heights in this career path.”

Cipriano said Moss “has been one of the most influential people” on him as Cipriano pursues acting.

“Dr. Moss is really great,” Cipriano said. “He’s always been supportive. He was so welcoming when I came into the program. I always get excited to do a show.”

While Cipriano has performed in a number of musicals, the talented actor also has taken on nonmusical roles, which have helped to strengthen his acting skills.

“In a story show, you don’t have the music to back you up,” said Cipriano, who along with acting plays guitar, ukulele and some piano.

Over the years, Cipriano has performed in the Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus. He also played the character of Eugene in the Birmingham Village Players’ 2015 production of “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” and he was cast in several parts with the Grosse Pointe Theatre.

Check out Cipriano’s website at www.antoniocipriano.com, and his Facebook page at facebook.com/antoniociprianomusic.