As a child I was fortunate to been caught in the magical spell of Frank Torok. He was a genius who set the highest standards and expectations for all of us.
The School began a Summer Theatre season shortly after Mr Torok arrived. Since my brother was a few years older than me I too was a member of that audience (19764-67). Later I joined The Drama Guild as a Freshman and auditioned. HMS Pinafore (photo) in 1966 was my debut as a Messboy to the left i(back row).
His shows left me awestruck (as my parents could never afford any Broadway tickets). Summer Theatre introduced me to Carousel; The Miracle Worker; See How They Run (a British farce); Once Upon a Mattress; The Fantasticks; Li'l Abner to Camelot; My Fair Lady to Brigadoon all in sequence over 4 to 6 weeks with 4 or 5 shows in one summer.
A student from Arts High auditioned. This was the first time I heard a trained voice. Mila DeCosta sang Buttercup's aria from HMS Pinafore and got an ovation.(Decades later she sang DON JUAN at the Amato Opera). Vincent Scalera played the piano for Pinafore. Later he also played at LaScala with major singers including Vittorio Griglio at The Met. Pat Flynn also appeared in TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA in a wild supporting role at The Shakespeare Festival.
The 1967 riots eviscerated the St. Benedict's Music Theatre summer season in Newark. Attendance dropped by 80%. Frank Torok was offered a job by Yale University.
His lifelong tenure in New Haven was a profound loss for Newark.
Fortunately, I was able to give Frank a copy of my book: "Exits & Entrances:25 Years Off-Broadway, Opera and beyond" in 2018 at the Hive in Newark.
Hail and farewell our Captain of the Pinafore and so much more. .