As the business manager of Princeton Summer Theater in 2008, Kelvin Dinkins ’09 learned about theater management and customer service at the Hamilton Murray Theater box office. As an actor in the PST production Urinetown shortly after his graduation, he took a final bow on the Princeton stage. And this summer, Dinkins has returned to campus as PST’s artistic director, leading the summer stock company through four main-stage shows before heading to New York to start an MFA program in theater management and production at Columbia University.
Dinkins, a president of the Princeton Triangle Club during his undergraduate years, said that the 43-year-old summer program has helped generations of students explore careers in theater, on stage and off.
“It’s really an experience that you won’t get going to work [as an intern] for a producing office or a casting office in New York,” he said. “It’s a unique experience for collaboration between artists, from many different backgrounds … and you feel that ownership of your own season.”
The 2011 PST company does not have as many Princeton undergraduates as in recent years (Chris Beard ’14 is the lone Princetonian among the four full-time actors), but recent alumni of the University’s theater community will play a strong role in the direction of the company’s plays.
Jed Q. Peterson ’06, a two-time artistic director of PST (2004-05), has returned to direct the musical Into the Woods, joining music director Jared Judge, a senior at Penn State. Lovell Holder ’09, now an MFA student Brown University, will direct Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. Sarah Outhwaite ’09, a former PST publicity director now working on off-Broadway productions in New York, will head the staging of Beyond Therapy. And to wrap up the season, Dinkins will direct Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House – a play that Dinkins studied as an undergraduate but has never seen on the stage.
The company will draw on local professionals for technical direction (Jeffrey Van Velsor) and lighting design (Chris Gorzelnik, production supervisor at Richardson Auditorium). “We want to maintain that Princeton Summer Theater standard that the audiences keep coming back to see,” Dinkins said.
The group’s run of Into the Woods opened June 22 and continues through July 3. Meanwhile, part of the cast has started rehearsing Barefoot in the Park in preparation for its July 7 debut. Dinkins said that even in their first pass, the actors showed a natural sense for the play’s comedic timing.
“Watching them completely transform in the sit-down reading was great, and Lovell was just thrilled with what happened in the room,” Dinkins said. “I can’t wait to see each transition, from show to show. That’s what I love about Princeton Summer Theater.”
For more information about Princeton Summer Theater, including a complete schedule of performances, visit pst2011.org.