The Troy Department of Theatre and Dance is producing a show this weekend written by the most successful female musical theater writer of all time.
“Violet” is a musical written by Jeanine Tesori, who is the most honored female theatrical composer in history. She has written five Broadway musicals and received four Tony award nominations.
The musical is based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts and follows the story of Violet, a 25-year-old woman with a large scar on the side of her face from a childhood accident.
In “Violet,” the audience watches the title character, played by Mallory Wintz, a freshman theater major from Jacksonville, Florida go on a journey that director Tori Lee Averett said “is a story that matters and is important to tell.”
“It has a hopeful message in it… It’s really good writing,” said Averett, who also serves as the chair of the Troy Department of Theatre and Dance. “Tesori has a lot of thoughts about how musical theater has gender issues attached to it… I’m really interested to see how people respond.”
The cast is composed completely of students, including a Charles Henderson High School student, Nelsey Leverette, in the role of Young Violet, who will be seen in flashbacks throughout the show. Two of the shows will also feature understudies in the lead roles of Violet and her love interest Flick, making the cast a total of 18 people.
Averett also said that she was incredibly proud of her numerous student leaders for the show. Nathan Maxwell, a junior theater major from Hattiesburg, Mississippi serves as production assistant for the show, and Shelby Steverson, a senior theater major from Crestivew, Florida is the assistant music director, which are positions that are not always filled by a student.
“They’ve come with a gratitude for the opportunity,” Averett said. “I’ve been really pleased. They’ve risen to the challenge.”
Assistant choreographer Payton Buchin, a junior theater education major from Dothan, said that the process has allowed her to grow both as a person and as an artist.
“This show has a message that the people in our lives are what makes us who we are,” Buchin said. “I’ve learned how to allow others to influence me in both my work and my life.”
Averett said that the message of the show is something all college age students can learn from.
“The obvious message is that what a person is made of is much more important than what they look like,” Averett said. “College is a time when you think about that a lot.
“We’re learning about ourselves through the people we spend time with. We’re deciding what parts we want to show people and what parts we want to keep hidden.”
The cast of “Violet” will perform April 6-10 in Trojan Center Theatre. Shows will begin promptly at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. There is a matinee at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 or $5 with a student ID. They can be purchased at the Trojan Center Box Office or online through the department’s website.