By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – Broadway veteran and Shrewsbury High School alumna, Catherine Brunell, will appear at Shrewsbury High School (SHS) in concert Saturday, Dec. 16, with the Roger Cohen Trio in a Cabaret-style event: “A Place Called Home.” The concert begins at 7 p.m.
Presented by the Shrewsbury High School Performing Arts Department, the concert is kicking off the 50th anniversary of the spring musical. This coming spring the musical will be “All Shook Up,” debuting the weekend of March 8-10.
According to Michael Lapomardo, SHS music director, “Brunell will take the audience on a journey through her career.”
She graduated in 1993, and was a student of one of the founders of the school’s spring musical tradition, Jack Feldheimer, who was musical director until he retired in 1998. The high school’s current musical director, Nathan Colby, was also a student of Feldheimer’s.
Feldheimer and fellow co-directors, Lou Vella and Ralph Metcalf, began the program in 1969 when the school’s Glee Club and orchestra joined forces to produce school’s first spring musical, a production of “Oklahoma” – the one and only time it has been performed at the high school.
“It’s a celebration of the history of musical theater in Shrewsbury and just how music in general can change someone’s life,” exclaimed Lapomardo.
Brunell will perform with cast members of “All Shook Up,” which, according to Lapomardo, “is a jukebox musical centered on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with mixed up identities, love stories, mayhem and craziness in a dreary town that comes to life though music, specifically the music of Elvis Presley.”
“The kids are already working on it and they are having a blast,” he added. There are 97 students who are involved either on stage or behind the scenes.
Lapomardo has been a part of the SHS Performing Arts program since 2000. When asked what sets the SHS program apart, he explained, “I think its two things and the first is that the staff that works on the shows are highly skilled individuals who are masters at what they do…a higher production value is the final outcome.”
He further explained that out of the seven staff that work on the show, four went to SHS, have gone through the Shrewsbury program, and have gone on to either Broadway or other professional performance careers. They have come back and brought their talents and skills with them to Shrewsbury’s program.
“The people, the educators that were here in the early ‘40s, ‘50s or ‘60s, I don’t know if they truly envisioned what the future would look like, but I think they believed in what they valued and what they instilled as foundations that sent us forward…and now we are expanding upon that,” Lapomardo said.
To reserve tickets to “A Place Called Home,” visit [email protected]. Suggested donation is $10 per person.