Katrina Lenk -- who Sunday night won the Tony Award for leading actress in a musical -- showed potential greatness even as a teenager at Barrington High School, according her former choral director.
"She was what they like to call a triple threat," said Pam Hanley, who was Barrington High's choral director when Lenk attended the school from 1989 to 1993. "She could sing. She could dance. She could act. And she could play an instrument."
Hanley was beaming in her Barrington home Sunday as she watched Lenk receive a Tony for her performance as Dina in "The Band's Visit." The Broadway production, which took 10 Tony Awards, is based on a 2007 movie by the same name about members of an Egyptian police orchestra who accidentally wind up in the wrong Israeli town for a gig.
"It was thrilling and not a shock, because she's such a huge talent," said the now-retired Hanley. "And she was a huge talent back in high school."
Lenk has not forgotten about Barrington High. Though unable to attend the Barrington High School Alumni Legends fundraiser last year, she sent a video message of support recorded in her dressing room for "The Band's Visit" at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York.
Barrington resident Kevin Mileski is among Lenk's former classmates who was excited to learn about her Tony. Mileski, who attended Barrington High from 1990 to 1994, said he could tell how Lenk was ahead of her peers when he was on stage with her and remembers how deeply she was into playing feisty Anita in "West Side Story."
Mileski, who keeps in touch with Lenk, said she earned her success by playing "(cruddy) gigs" and waiting restaurant tables along the way.
"I would say it's about 26 years overdue," Mileski said of Lenk's Tony. "She was that good in high school. She was well beyond what anyone else could do."
Other Broadway credits for Lenk include the musicals "Once" and "Indecent." In addition to acting, she's a singer, violist, dancer and songwriter.
Lenk, who worked for what now is the Al Larson Prairie Center for the Arts in Schaumburg while in college, graduated from Northwestern University's School of Music in 1997.