Booker High to host ‘Trending Now’ on Jan. 30 to raise funds for contest

School hopes to send students to Southeastern Theatre Conference Festival in Greensboro, N.C., in March

Savannah Sinclair plays the title role in the Booker High School VPA Theatre production of Passionella. Contributed photo by C.S. Manahan
Savannah Sinclair plays the title role in the Booker High School VPA Theatre production of ‘Passionella.’ Contributed photo by C.S. Manahan

The Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) Theatre Department will host a gala benefit performance to raise funds to send students to Greensboro, N.C., in March to compete in the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) Festival, the school has announced.

The gala, Trending Now: #plinkplankplunk, will begin at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31, in the VPA Theatre on the Booker High campus in north Sarasota.

Trending Now will include a musical revue as well as an encore performance of Passionella from The Apple Tree, a series of three short musical plays, a news release says. The Booker High production of Passionella took first place at the 60th annual Florida Theatre Conference in November, the release points out.

Tickets for the gala are available at or by calling the VPA box office at 355-2967, Option 1, the release says. General admission is $20; VIP tickets are $50 (they include hors d’oeuvres, a dessert reception and photo ops with the cast). T-shirt sponsorships are also available for businesses that would like to support the school’s fundraising efforts, the release notes. For more information, call VPA coordinator Rebecca King at 927-9000, Ext. 65216, or email her at

“The Florida Theatre Conference competition, which pits theatre departments from across the state against one another as they vie for the ‘Best Production’ award, is fierce,” the release explains. The winning production represents the state of Florida at the SETC Festival. Booker High will compete for the regional title, and students will audition for representatives of dozens of college theater departments from across the country, the release adds.

“While it is exciting to offer the chance for talented students to perform for prestigious judges at SETC,” the release continues, “the opportunity comes with a price tag. For registration, hotel and travel fees for the cast and crew of Passionella, the VPA Theatre Department is trying to raise $35,000, the release says. “This will allow the department to offset expenses for all students and provide additional support to those who are financially disadvantaged,” it points out.

The Booker High School VPA Theatre has a history of Florida Theatre Conference and SETC wins, the release says. The department took top honors at the latter in 2008 with its production of John Lennon and Me, and in 2003, it won first place with Seussical the Musical at SETC, the release notes. The latter production featured Syesha Mercado, American Idol’s Season 7 semifinalist and a Broadway performer; and Charlie Barnett, star of NBC’s Chicago Fire.