Liggett students in the spotlight for their achievements

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 3, 2018

 University Liggett School freshman Trinity Lee was a state winner at the Michigan High School All State Figure Skating Competition March 3-4 at the Bay County Civic Arena in Bay City.

University Liggett School freshman Trinity Lee was a state winner at the Michigan High School All State Figure Skating Competition March 3-4 at the Bay County Civic Arena in Bay City.

Photo provided by Sonia Lee

 Recent University Liggett School graduate Antonio Cipriano was cast as Phoenix in the musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which will make its world premier this May in Boston.

Recent University Liggett School graduate Antonio Cipriano was cast as Phoenix in the musical “Jagged Little Pill,” which will make its world premier this May in Boston.

Photo provided by Antonio Cipriano

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GROSSE POINTE WOODS — The spotlight is shining brightly on two University Liggett School students: one for her sit-spins on the ice and the other as a showstopper on the stage.

Last month, ULS freshman Trinity Lee was a state winner at the Michigan High School All State Figure Skating Competition held March 3-4 at the Bay County Civic Arena in Bay City. The figure skater earned a gold medal.

“For that to happen, it felt like a dream come true,” Lee said. “It felt amazing, because in skating, you work so hard for just a few minutes on the ice. I was really happy to be part of the competition.”

Also last month, Liggett alumnus Antonio Cipriano was cast in the world premier musical of “Jagged Little Pill” that premiers this May in Boston. “Jagged Little Pill,” inspired by Alanis Morissette’s Grammy Award-winning album of the same name released in 1995, tells the original story about a family dealing with many issues affecting communities and the world today. Since March 15, the cast has been rehearsing in New York City.

“We’ll be here until April 21,” Cipriano said. “That’s when we move to Boston. I’m just enjoying every minute of it.”

The show is booked in Boston until July 15.

Both Lee and Cipriano have worked hard to make their latest accomplishments realities.


Skating for gold
In the state skating competition — via the U.S. Figure Skating Association based in Colorado Springs, Colorado — Lee competed in the solo ice dance category, in which the skaters performed an ice dance routine sans a partner. Each athlete skated to a blues music style of dance and was judged on technique, presentation and overall interpretation of the dance.

“Everyone had to dance to the exact same pattern,” Lee said. “Each skater had a different song with the same style and same beats per measure.”

At the same event, the University Liggett School varsity skating team — consisting of Lee, senior Abby Hung and sophomore Molly Schelosky — earned a bronze medal during a team competition.

Lee was 8 years old and a student at the Brookfield Academy in Troy when she first laced up a pair of skates on the Campus Martius rink in Detroit.

“Balancing on blades just felt so natural to me,” the gold medal winner said. “I love fall and winter. It was a perfect fit.”

Her mom, Sonia Lee, also a skater, suggested her daughter take up ice skating for medical reasons.

“When I was born, I had a heart murmur,” the Troy resident said. “My mom wanted me to improve my cardiovascular endurance.”

The first ice skating lesson for Lee was learning how to fall and get back up.

“When you fall, that means you’re putting your best efforts forward and you really went for it. You’re giving it 100 percent,” the 15-year-old said.

From there, Lee learned the basics of spins, maintaining balance and gliding on the rink. She then graduated to master different spins, spirals, the spread eagle and various jumps, including the double axel, the double salchow, the double flip and the double lutz.

“When you land it, it’s just like, ‘Yes,’” Lee said, adding that she stays in the moment when on the ice. “When you’re skating, you focus on what your doing.”

The Olympics could be in Lee’s future.

“That’s always been a dream,” Lee said. “I just want to enjoy skating for right now. It’s one step at a time.”

Lee often practices two to three hours per day, six days a week. Her favorite skaters include star athletes Yuna Kim, Nathan Chen and the ice dance team of Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

“I just love how artistic they are on the ice,” she said. “They can convey so many different emotions. They portray different characters on the ice.”

Lee attends Liggett as a Merit Scholar, in which her tuition will be covered for four years. To date, she has earned 33 gold, 31 silver and seven bronze medals at various figure skating competitions. Along with her graceful blades on the frozen stage, Lee is an accomplished concert pianist, violinist and singer.

Lee competed in an international piano competition in England, and a world piano competition in Cincinnati. She has performed on six different occasions for crowds at Carnegie Hall in New York City.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “Carnegie Hall is beautiful.”

Lee said her classmates at Liggett are supportive of her achievements, as are her mom, dad Michael and brother William, a junior at Bloomfield Christian School in Bloomfield Hills, who also is an accomplished golfer.

Videos of Trinity Lee skating and playing the piano can be found on YouTube.
    

Cipriano, center stage  
Cipriano, 17, of Grosse Pointe Shores, graduated early from Liggett this spring, allowing him to rehearse for his role as Phoenix in “Jagged Little Pill.”

“My character is basically a part of the love story,” he said. “It’s one of the side stories.”

Although Cipriano was born after Morissette’s album was released, he knows the songs because his mom used to listen to the album while he was growing up. “Ironic,” “You Oughta Know,” and “Hand in My Pocket” were among the songs on “Jagged Little Pill” that hit radio airwaves and MTV more than 20 years ago. Cipriano believes the music has stood the test of time.

“So many people relate to this album,” Cipriano said.

According to the American Repertory Theater website at amer icanrepertorytheater.org, the cast features Elizabeth Stanley as Mary Jane, Sean Allan Krill as Steve, Celia Gooding as Frankie, Derek Klena as Nick, and Lauren Patten as Jo. Morissette is expected to meet the cast soon.  

The production features a book by Diablo Cody, who won an Academy Award for her screenplay of “Juno”; music by Morissette and Glen Ballard; lyrics by Morissette; music supervision, orchestrations and arrangements by Tom Kitt; and choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus is the director.

“Tom Kitt just made the songs even better,” Cipriano said.

The Liggett graduate said Phoenix is “a happy character” who has become the man of the house. He is there for his mother and his sister, who has fallen ill. Taking the role wasn’t a hard pill to swallow.

“I love my character. It’s a lot of fun to play,” the performer said. “Being onstage and being able to relate to the audience is the coolest thing ever. You work so hard for this. You feel the energy from the audience. That’s what makes it worth it in the end.”

Cipriano is basically in the show the entire time, as he also is part of the show’s ensemble.

“It’s like another lead character,” he said. “The ensemble moves the story along. They move the sets.”

Cipriano is still making plans to study musical theater in college.

“Show business is a crazy business,” Cipriano said. “You never know what’s going to happen until it happens.”

Cipriano began performing at a young age. He has been cast in more than 40 school and community theater productions, as well as main stage performances at the Detroit Opera House. “Les Miserable,” “Grease” and “Brighton Beach Memoirs” are among his productions.

In 2017, he won the Sutton Foster Ovation Award for best actor in a musical, sponsored by Michigan State University. This award earned him the spot to compete for and make his Broadway debut during the National High School Musical Theatre Awards in New York City in June 2017. The actor’s recent performances include a show at New York City’s Broadway supper club Feinstein’s/54 Below this past February.

For more information about Antonio Cipriano, visit www.an toniocipriano.com or his Facebook page @AntonioCiprianoMusic.

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