As a musician, Faith Hamilton Trent has long been accustomed to transforming notes on a page into art. It’s something she shared for years as an elementary school teacher in Kansas City.
But after retiring and moving to St. Simons Island, she began to take that concept in a different direction — the theater.
“I moved here five years ago and once we got settled, I thought auditioning for the Island Players would be a great way to meet people. I had done some theatre before so I got involved in the production end, then joined the board. At one point, I was the music director and did a couple of things ... and I did the Christmas show,” she said.
Recently, she decided to try her hand at a bigger role on stage. Trent auditioned for the community theatre’s small, all female ensemble cast of “The Savannah Sipping Society,” which she landed along with Jackie Santoro, Elle Woodcock, Pam Taylor and Shannon Stock. While it was a bit of a challenge, it was a gamble that has certainly paid off.
“It’s my first real, substantial rol, but I am loving it. It’s been such a joy and the cast is wonderful. They were warm and welcoming and the director is very sensitive to the way he stages these scenes with four women,” Trent said. “It has really helped me grow and I think we’ve created some life-long friendships.”
The play, which opens at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the Casino on St. Simons Island, will continue throughout the month. It details the relationships between a gaggle of gal pals, all of whom are going through a trying time in their lives.
For Trent, finding a way to communicate this was a little daunting.
“Being on stage is really a stretch ... physically and mentally. It’s really challenging to memorize the lines, it’s like learning music. You take what you’ve learned but then have to incorporate that into your own form of artistic expression,” she said. “It’s a challenge and a joy. The show is really funny. The writing is clever, witty and downright silly sometimes.”
Like Trent, Greg Santoro also has a deep appreciation for the craft. As a director for a number of Island Players productions, Santoro certainly knows his way around the stage. In fact, he has quite the résumé, working as a professional stunt man, stage actor and Screen Actors Guild member.
“I’m either a bad guy or a cop so you can say I have a niche,” Santoro said with a laugh. “I do a lot of horse stunt work ... it’s a lot of fun.”
He even has movie credits to his name, appearing along side big stars like Andy Garcia. Santoro moved to the Golden Isles from Washington, D.C., and since he has enjoyed sharing his experience with his fellow thespians.
“I have a passion for the stage and when I came here, I auditioned for the Island Players. I’ve been in love with it ever since,” he said. “The stage is so much different than television or movies. It’s the purest form of the art.”
Santoro also thrives on helping others expand their craft. As a director, he has worked with actors and actresses on a number of productions including, “The Cemetery Club,” “I Hate Hamlet” and others. But he is particularly excited about this show due to the intimacy of the relationships between the characters.
“It’s about four women and life has broken them all in some way or another but fate throws them together. It’s really a ‘drama-edy,’ it’s funny and warm. It’s a feel good story about how these four women help heal each other and find joy in life and the magic of Savannah,” he said.
Of course, as a man, bringing that to life has presented its own set of challenges.
“For some reason, it’s funny ... I don’t know, I’m this action guy, stuntman but I have a knack for directing women’s ‘drama-edies,’” Santoro said with a laugh. “But the cast is outstanding ... my wife is actually in the cast, and we met in the theatre but they are all amazing actresses. It’s going to be an amazing show.”
The play will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays with a matinee at 3 p.m. Sundays through March 17. Tickets are available at www.theislandplayers.com. Prices range from $5 to $20 depending on age.
Santoro hopes that the cast’s hard work will be rewarded with packed out auditoriums. He also hopes that those interested in exploring the world of theatre participate in future shows.
“I try to encourage as many people who are thinking about getting involved to take that next step. I want to encourage them to come out and try in some way, shape or form. These productions have so many jobs so if being on stage isn’t your thing, you can try hospitality or working backstage to test the waters,” he said. “We have a great community theater here that has been going strong for almost 70 years. It’s brought people together and has created life long friends that are really family.”