If Alex Karpinski’s grandfather had taken him to Europe, we might never have had a budding Broadway playwright in Verona.
We’ll let Alex explain. “Back in 2004, my grandfather went to Paris and I wanted to go,” says Alex. “I couldn’t, but to make it up to me, he told me we would go see a Broadway show and gave me the choice of Phantom, Beauty & The Beast or 42nd Street. I picked 42nd Street.” The experience was the proverbial lightning bolt. Almost immediately, Alex asked his father for tickets to see the musical again.
“I fell in love with the theater,” says Alex, now a sophomore at Verona High School. Not just with acting or singing in the theater, though he’s done plenty of both in middle school and high school performances. Alex Karpinski fell in love with the process of creating theater and set out to learn everything he could about how a musical is conceived and produced. He’s collected not only musical playbills, but also theater scripts, which he has pored over and critiqued. (If Stephen King or Lawrence D. Cohen are reading, Alex has some definite thoughts on how to rework the musical version of Carrie).
He’s even begun to write musicals. “I love writing my own scripts,” he says. “Every day, I come up with a new idea.” One of them is a musical based on Sonny With A Chance, a Disney Channel show that is a favorite of his younger sister Jessica. But other ideas are more unusual for a teenager, like a musical based on the comedy team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. He begins each script by roughing out the basics, he says: Who sings, who doesn’t, what they do sing and when.
Though there is a fair amount of showmanship in the Karpinski gene pool–Alex’s grandfather was in a drum and bugle corps, as was his mother, Robin Karpinski–Alex found a mentor outside the family to help him with his musical writing.
Through his theater journey, Alex discovered Selena Forever, a musical about the Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, who was murdered in 1995 by the president of her fan club. He wrote to the show’s creator, Edward Gallardo, to ask for a copy of the script. Gallardo not only obliged, he also volunteered to review and critique Alex’s scriptwriting. So now, when Alex gets stuck on book or lyrics, help is just an e-mail away.
Script-writing may take a back seat for a few weeks now, though. Alex has landed the role of Jose Vegas in the VHS production of Fame.. He gets to do two solo songs and a lot of dancing, and says he is very excited by the prospect. “I hope this show can introduce me to Verona,” he says. “It will show what I can do.”