Alumnus' career takes center stage
When Trent Blanton, ’95, found out he would play both Grantaire and Bamatabois in the Broadway National Tour of Les Miserables, he was ecstatic.
“It was a phenomenon,” said the Canton, Ga., native and Georgia College theatre major. “Over the course of several contracts and many years, I finally had the chance to perform in the famed play. I probably played in it some 1,500 times, but I’m always honored to have been a part of such a magnificent piece of theatre.”
The opportunity carried the Georgia College alumnus to almost every major city in North America.
“I even performed the Chinese premiere in 2002 with Colm Wilkinson—the original Jean Valjean—at the Shanghai Grand Theatre,” said Blanton. “The show helped me mature as an actor and individual; however, it was my Georgia College degree and professors who prepared me for the rigorous demands of professional theatre.”
Today, Blanton is an assistant professor of theatre at Rider University in the Westminster College of the Arts. He teaches acting and movement.
Blanton knew he wanted to pursue acting after watching a production of the 1970 musical Godspell during his freshman year of high school.
“I was so inspired by that particular show’s performances I knew right then acting was what I was meant to do,” he said.
During his high school senior year, he auditioned at the Georgia Theatre Conference since the organization often helps connect the best high school theatre students with the best college theatre programs in the country.
There, he learned about Georgia College’s theatre program.
Blanton also met David Moore, former music and theatre professor at Georgia, whom he said was responsible for shaping and directing his early career goals. Other supporters included Jim Willoughby, former chair of music and theatre, and Georgia College historian and history professor Bob Wilson.
While theatre consumed most of Blanton’s college career, the Magna Cum Laude student did find time to help reorganize national dramatic honorary society Alpha Psi Omega.
The solid liberal arts education also prepared Blanton for any job situation, he said.
“When I wasn’t acting, I worked many survival jobs,” said Blanton. “Because Georgia College taught me how to learn, I had the ability to adapt to any field.”
Whenever acting gigs presented themselves, though, Blanton jumped to the parts.
“It was a combination of timing and networking,” he said. “This business is about remembering names and faces of everyone you meet, and nurturing professional relationships.”
Along with Les Miserables, Blanton’s acting credits include A Christmas Carol (Actors Theatre of Louisville); 1776 (Ford’s Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera); Fiddler on the Roof (Starlight Musicals of Kansas City & The MUNY of St. Louis); Romeo & Juliet (Alliance Theatre Company); A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and The Taming of the Shrew (Georgia Shakespeare); and Masada (York Theatre, NYC).
Blanton also earned a master’s in acting at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Fla., where he was the recipient of the Joshua Logan Graduate Assistantship.
Currently, he works with the McCarter Theater Company in Princeton, N.J., as a director for its Summer Shakespeare Intensive, Romeo & Juliet and The Winter’s Tale.
This fall he will direct the New Jersey premiere of Groovelily’s rock musical, Striking 12.
“With my schedule, I have little time for things that are not work related,” he said. “When I do have time, I enjoy spending it with my family. You must have balance between your business and personal life—because personal health contributes to professional growth.”