CALDWELL, NJ — Twenty-five years ago, Caldwell’s Trinity Academy lacked a drama club to encourage students to explore their interest in performing arts. This year, the Trinity Academy Drama Club celebrated its own growth through its spring musical “Peter Pan JR,” the timeless and enchanting story of a boy who did not want to grow up.

For the 25th anniversary of the school’s drama program, director Kelly King said the students took on their most challenging musical to date. With the additional fantasy elements involved in this particular production, which was performed in April, Kelly said students in grades five through eight took their acting, make-up, scenery, costumes, props, lighting and stage-management skills to a new level.

“When I thought about 25 years, I thought about the whole idea of: just like we’ve grown up, Peter Pan growing up kind of ties into that,” said King. “It’s hard to believe that it has been 25 years since this journey began. The choice of this show is a perfect reflection of all of those years.”

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King, who has directed all 25 productions at Trinity Academy, said what she loves most about the program is how much it has grown to be able to expose the students to not only acting, but to the entire experience of being part of a production, “from beginning to end, from auditions to striking the set.”

“Trinity was only about two years old when [the principal] said we needed an after-school arts program—and that’s what I went to school for, so I said let’s give it a shot,” said King. “It started out very simply: we would do short, one-hour plays, I would put together the costumes and I would put together the sets. So when I think about where we started, it was kind of bare bones and then as we grew, parents became involved who had expertise and every year we add a different layer to it. Now I’m just so proud to be able to say that we have professionals working on the team that can actually help teach the kids and they learn more than just performance on stage.”

Just like Wendy Darling does in the musical, King said the members and volunteers of the Trinity Academy Drama Club realize that “growing up is also a beautiful part of the process of life.” She thanked all those who have participated over the last 25 years for helping the school to “remember the joy of the youth of our program” as well as those who have “allowed us to grow up as a program and be the best we can be.”

This year’s performance was also unique because the drama club tied in the idea of the Lost Boys, who have no families and minimal clothing, into the local charity Tuesday’s Children, an organization that serves communities altered by acts of violence. According to King, the organization was formed after 9/11 to help collect needed supplies for kids who were left without parents. During the production weekend at Trinity Academy, children’s clothing was collected and recently picked up for this cause.

“Like the Lost Boys, who do not have proper clothing and have lost their families, the children supported by this organization benefit by any form of fundraising that we can do,” the Peter Pan JR playbill reads.  

Tuesday’s Children is the leading nonprofit organization providing long-term support to individuals and communities around the world impacted by terrorism and traumatic loss, according to the playbill description. It also states that the organization offers a time-tested, long-term approach that enables families and communities torn apart by tragedy to heal, recover and thrive.

All photos were provided by Trinity Academy of Caldwell. 

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