A year after opening its doors, the Triumvirate North Theatre is still going strong, as it holds two Christmas-themed plays this holiday season.
In December 2013, the theater opened with a performance of “White Christmas.” This season, the theater is having performances of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and “A Christmas Carol,” while the debut of “Annie” will take place early next year.
Located in a renovated car shop five miles north of downtown Kenai, the Triumvirate North is a non-profit, grant-funded organization affiliated with the Alaska Children’s Institute for the Performing Arts.
Despite being part of a children’s organization, Triumvirate North puts on shows using casts of all ages. Children play the roles in some plays, such as “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” whereas in others, such as “A Christmas Carol,” adults are more involved.
The Triumvirate has been in existence since 1998. It wasn’t until last year, however, that it moved from its previous location in the Soldotna Mall to its current location in North Kenai.
Joe Rizzo, the theater’s president, is proud of all the work done to make the Triumvirate North successful.
“We work really hard to provide good entertainment,” Rizzo said.
Kate Schwarzer, the director of “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” is also impressed with the way the theater turned out.
“Look at this place,” Schwarzer said. “Can you believe that this was an old car shop?”
While Schwarzer loves the new building, she does admit that there have been some issues with the venue, particularly a lack of dressing rooms.
“One of the new Triumvirate things is to run into cast members putting on makeup or whatever, if you go to the bathroom,” she said.
Despite some minor inconveniences, Schwarzer says the theater is good for the Kenai Peninsula.
“This is a really great opportunity for kids to get involved in theater.”
Schwarzer said that the children have been wonderful to work with. She said that in order to have good performances, the children rehearse up to four times a week.
“I don’t want to wear them out, but at the same time, practice makes perfect,” she said. “Generally, they’re an amazing group of kids and they have been working very hard.”
The children are not the only reason for the theater’s success. Schwarzer said that the Triumvirate North’s president, Joe Rizzo, has also played a large part in the Triumvirate’s popularity.
“I love Joe. He’s a really great guy. He’s got a ton of energy and that means a lot to me,” she said.
State Sen. Peter Micciche, whose daughters are in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” also gave credit to Joe Rizzo for not only helping form Triumvirate North, but for also teaching young, aspiring actors.
“The Rizzos and the folks from Triumvirate do amazing things with young people,” Micciche said.
While Micciche enjoys Rizzo’s work, he wasn’t always so sure about the idea transforming an old building into a nice theater.
“I’m fascinated with the way it turned out,” said Micciche. “When (Joe) Rizzo began looking at this building, I didn’t share his vision, and frankly, I’ve been to several shows here, it’s a beautiful building.”
Micciche was appreciative of how the community supported Triumvirate North.
“I’m grateful for all the sponsors that helped convert it into the building it is today,” he said. “It’s just a building generally filled with joy. Whether it’s kids practicing to be in a play, community members practicing to be in a performance, or people in the community here enjoying a live performance — I can’t think of a more positive outcome.”
Sophia Micciche, who plays Lucy in “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” said that being in the play was a lot of fun. She hopes to do more plays with Triumvirate North in the future.
One of her favorite parts of being in the performance was working with her younger sister Lucia, who played the role of Snoopy.
“She didn’t want to (be in the play) at first,” she said. “But, when I told her that she got a Snoopy costume and a doghouse — then she finally agreed.”
For more information, go to: http://www.triumviratetheatre.org