Nov. 25, 2003 – The V.I. Institute of Performing Arts is preparing for what its director calls "a comeback performance" for the holiday season this year. It's an original production called "The Fading Light," to be presented one night only, Dec. 13, at the Charlotte Amalie High School auditorium.
VIIPA didn't present a holiday program a year ago, "because we were going through some changes at the school," director Ingrid Thomas said on Tuesday. "We disappointed a lot of people. But we're here again this year."
Nearly a hundred VIIPA students will take part in the production, which relates the story of a girl named Faith who "because the light of Christmas is facing" is frustrated in her attempts to tell her friends about the joyful meaning of the holiday.
Faith embarks on a journey "trying to restore the light," Thomas explains. It takes her through all manner of sad and scary experiences, as she "encounters broken toys, misfortunes and some evil, overcomes all that, and finally finds and helps restore the light of Christmas."
The work was written and choreographed by Malayisha Rabsatt, who heads the dance program at the institute.
Playing the part of Faith is 14-year-old Sasha Levons, a ninth grader at All Saints Cathedral School who has been a VIIPA dance student for about eight years.
In other principal roles are:
– Malika Forbes, a Charlotte Amalie High School junior, as the Keeper of the Light.
– Brittany Brin, a 7th grader at All Saints, as Cassandra, a child Faith is trying to tell about Christmas.
– K'Misha Counts, a CAHS junior, as the Queen of Hearts.
– Stanley Barbell, a 6th grader at Ulla Muller School, as Charlie, who's in charge of the broken toys.
– La Quanda Fredericks, a 4th grader at Joseph Sibilly School, as Suzie Square.
– Tiana Thomas, an All Saints 3rd grader, as Betsy Wetsy.
– Mia Morris, a 5th grader at Michael J. Kirwan School, as Grumpie the Clown.
– Terriya Thomas, an adult student, as Despair; and Xinovia Farrell, a CAHS junior, as Emptiness, two "monsters."
– Jershaun Estrill, a 6th grader at Lockhart School, as The Child.
– Lurlene Gerard, an adult student, as The Narrator.
"About 93 other students" ages 3 through adult have parts in the production, Ingrid Thomas said, playing "toys, choirs, models, other roles."
VIIPA instructors involved in the production include Lee Vanterpool, who teaches jazz; Teryssa Thomas, a CAHS sophomore who teaches tap classes and assists with gymnastics; Oma Olivacci, who teaches gymnastics; Gerard, who teaches voice; and Terriya Thomas, who teaches jazz and hip-hop.
Ingrid Thomas noted as rehearsals were under way Tuesday afternoon that "we have a lot of talent" at the institute: K'Misha is the reigning V.I. Miss Talented Teen, La Quanda is the 2003 V.I. Carnival princess, and Mia is the 2003 Miss Kirwan.
While the production opens with a scene that's an imaginary place, Thomas said, "it could be here. And we're doing a lot of local things, such as some dances similar to quadrille and quelbay, and music including 'The Guavaberry Song.' And the characters "play a lot of games children played back when — jacks, jump rope, Double Dutch."
The presentation will be at 7 p.m. on Dec. 13. Tickets are $20 for all ages, and they're being sold only at the VIIPA studios at 72 Kronprindsens Gade. For more information, call the institute at 777-9110.
Ingrid Thomas noted that the institute traditionally has staged its holiday productions at the Reichhold Center for the Arts. "Since the Reichhold is closed this year, we're going to do it at Charlotte Amalie," which has about 740 seats versus nearly 1,200 at the Reichhold, she said.
Still, only one performance could be booked because "so may other people have also asked for the use of the auditorium," she said, and it's likely to sell out. But in years past, VIIPA has been invited by community groups to present "pieces of the show elsewhere" following the full presentation, and she anticipates that will be the case again this year.
In addition, she said, there are plans for TV-2 to record the whole performance for broadcast later over the holidays.
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