Having worked at Amas Musical Theatre since 1994, artistic producer Donna Trinkoff knows a thing or two about producing a successful show. But the longevity of her career has as much to do with her undying faith in the theater company’s mission, as it does with her business acumen.
Amas, which is Latin for “You Love,” was founded in 1969 by acclaimed actress Rosetta LeNoire (1911-2002), whose goal was to create greater tolerance amongst different groups of people, and to do so through the medium of theater. The 60s being a time of heated social debate, not to mention equally heated racial tensions, initiatives like Amas were deeply needed to help bring people together. As LeNoire herself once said, “It’s hard to hate when you’re singing and dancing.” And as Trinkoff said of LeNoire, “She made people feel better about themselves. That’s such a rare thing for people to be able to do, and she bestowed that gift upon everyone she met.”
Amas’ longstanding success is a striking testament to LeNoire’s heroic efforts and their payoffs; to this day, the company continues to live by its original mission, and continues to produce musicals that are both innovate and socially conscientious. “We try to find shows that explore different points of view,” Trinkoff explained.
Donna and Aida Turturro
The theater company espouses its mission not only through its productions, but also by educating young schoolchildren throughout the city. Representatives from Amas travel to a number of private and public schools and conduct theater workshops, which culminate in fully realized performances of beloved chestnuts, from Hello, Dolly! to No, No, Nanette.
A native of Irvington, New York, in Westchester County, Trinkoff came to Amas because she was looking for work in the Special Events field of the theater industry. But her passion for theater can be traced all the way back to her early childhood, when she learned about musical theater by listening to her father’s records.
Leslie Uggams, Donna, and Yankee General Manager Brian Cashman
She spent her undergraduate years at Binghamton University, where she received her B.A. in Drama and English and upon graduating, spent a year abroad in London to continue her studies in theater. Trinkoff then returned to the States to study at the National Theatre Institute’s Eugene O’Neill Memorial Theatre Center, in Waterford, Connecticut.
Initially an aspiring actress, Trinkoff performed in a number of musicals and plays throughout her early career, but soon made her way into other facets of theater. As Trinkoff pointed out, “I worked with an improv comedy troupe called the Punch Line Players, and I loved the intellectual challenge of theater writing along with the challenge of producing shows.”
Trinkoff is especially excited about her upcoming show, The Other Josh Cohen. Directed by Tony Award-winner Ted Sperling (The Light in the Piazza), this new musical will open at the Soho Playhouse on October 21, following previews that will begin October 10, and a closing performance on November 11.
The musical itself tells the story of a young man down on his luck, a man who seems to have the whole world pitted against him. But he soon comes across a remarkable sum of money, though he isn’t sure if that money was originally meant for him. Faced with a moral dilemma over whether he should simply enjoy his once-in-a-lifetime fortune or return the money to its rightful owner, Josh undergoes a personal difficulty that may very well mirror the current condition of our own country. As Trinkoff explained, “[American] society is suffering from a plethora of self-interest, and we’re not being mindful of the community at large.”
As she went on to say, the musical is, in many ways, a conventional story, but it’s told in an unconventional way. Audiences will see that this is so right from the start of the show, when Josh’s house is robbed of all its contents, with the exception of a single Neil Diamond CD. When Josh proceeds to play the disc, the band magically comes to life and helps him tell the story of his plight. “If it can happen to him it can happen to you,” said Trinkoff.
For information on The Other Josh Cohen, go to the website for Amas Musical Theatre.
Woman Around Town’s Six Questions
Favorite Place to Shop: The West Village
Favorite Place to Eat: The Mermaid Cafe
Favorite New York Sight: The sun setting on the Hudson River
Favorite New York Moment: When you make all your connections just right and you get a seat on the subway!
What You Love About New York: I love the New York’s boundless energy and the fact that anything can happen here.
What You Hate About New York: I hate it when people are rude or uncivil. It only takes a moment to make another person feel good