Alumni find their ‘Way Back’ home

Alumni Faith Carrion, 25, and Ray Barcelo, 25, rehearse their duet “Fine” from “Ordinary Days” to prepare for a cabaret titled “A Way Back to Then.” The performance is Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. in the Little Theatre.(Careesa Campbell/Clarion)

By Katie Jolgren | Staff Writer

A special benefit concert to be performed in the Little Theatre features Citrus alumni Faith Carrion, 25, and Ray Barcelo, 25, in a simple stage setting accompanied by a single piano.

Celebrating the 100th birthday of Citrus College, “A Way Back to Then” will serve as a retrospective of decades of student experiences in the Theatre Arts Department and beyond.

“It’s nice to have alums coming back to where they started,” said Cherie Brown, director of the Theatre Arts Department. “It helps to mirror the centennial feel.”

“The first act is what life in college as artists and theatre students is like and the second act showcases life after college,” Carrion said.

In two acts, Carrion and Barcelo highlight the struggles of being performing arts students who then transition into the professional world as artists and entertainers. Along the way they showcase various skills they learned at Citrus.

After taking many of Brown’s acting classes in the Theatre Arts Department and performing in several shows together, Carrion and Barcelo have a close-knit friendship and a bevy of performance skills that easily translates to the stage.

“We have done a lot of work together and they are both terrific singers and the best of friends with their own established cabaret act, so it seemed like a perfect fit,” Brown said.

Carrion and Barcelo will sing classical Broadway and contemporary numbers, including pieces from Stephen Sondheim, Cole Porter, Kander and Ebb, and a medley by Stephen Schwartz, composer of the Broadway musical, “Wicked”.

“While making the selections, we had to make sure they were family friendly while also tying into our journey,” Barcelo said. “The different songs will reflect what we were going through at different times in our lives.”

As products of the Citrus Theatre Arts Department, Carrion and Barcelo hope to highlight the success of the programs in preparing performers for real world applications and that this department produces talented performers and professionals in a supportive community college setting.

“This program taught us who we are and because of the training we received, we are able to get jobs in our field,” Carrion said. “It’s important to us that people know not to overlook this community college and their amazing programs.”

Barcelo is currently a working actor, having recently performed at the Glendale Centre Theatre among several other musical theatre roles. Carrion has chosen to take her love of performing and instill it in young entertainers by teaching various classes at Centre Stage, Inc.

The cabaret will include many personal songs for Carrion and Barcelo, including pieces they have previously performed while in shows together. In this way, the cabaret feels like a conversation between the audience and performers.

“As the show progresses, it gets intimate and personal and more reflective,” Carrion stated.

The two artists want to share their love for both the stage and demonstrate their belief that through hard work, perseverance, and supportive friends, the struggle is all worth it.

“We want to look good, but we want to make the theatre look good as well,” Barcelo said. “It’ll be nice to be back. It’s like coming home.”

Audiences may attend “A Way Back to Then” Saturday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Little Theatre. Tickets for the benefit may be purchased at the Haugh Performing Arts Box Office or at for $20.