BRANDYWINE HUNDRED — Stage productions were among the casualties of the coronavirus pandemic, and St. Edmond’s Academy in north Wilmington is participating in a national initiative to help bring the theater back to prominence.
“All Together Now!” is a musical revue taking place in more than 2,500 venues in all 50 states and more than 40 countries. Sponsored by Music Theatre International, it is a way to help theaters “who are persevering under trying circumstances.” All of the participating theaters will present their shows Nov. 12-15. Licensing of the music for the productions is free.
Deborah DeHart, the performing arts director at St. Edmond’s, said the school will have soloists, small groups and a large production.
“We’re doing, with the choirs here, they’re putting on ‘Seize the Day,” from ‘Newsies,’ and they’re putting on ‘Pure Imagination’ from ‘Willy Wonka,’” she said. “All these composers from Broadway have given permission for their music to be used for this big event.”
The St. Edmond’s production will involve not only current students, but alumni and others. DeHart said one of them was in the very first production that took place in the Rollins Center 23 years ago after the addition to the school building was completed. The performers range in age from 7 to 80.
“Some of them have gone on to it professionally, for some it’s their avocation. Some will be coming back to support it by donating or coming to see the show,” she said.
Some of the women who performed at St. Edmond’s as young girls will be there, she continued. The daughters of a former teacher are involved, as is Holy Cross Brother Thomas Meany, who spent many years at the school before he retired. He has been traveling from the Holy Cross residence north of New York City for rehearsals.
“He loves it so and misses it so,” DeHart said.
Brother Thomas will perform with longtime St. Edmond’s administrator Bill D’Amato and board member Michael Pierce, who was in the theater while a St. Edmond’s student, along with former St. Edmond’s administrator Michael Marinelli, now the headmaster at Archmere Academy, and Archmere theology teacher Tom Mengers, who was the lead in two shows while a St. Edmond’s student.
Jude Mowbray is a seventh-grade student participating in the show. He said he is excited to have alumni back on the stage.
“I haven’t met any of them, but I think it’s exciting. It’s good that they’re coming back,” he said.
His classmate, Liam Hancox, is glad to have Brother Thomas on board. He has visited St. Edmond’s on occasion. “It will be good to see him come back.”
St. Edmond’s did two productions last year during the pandemic, one that was entirely virtual and the other partially so. DeHart said it was challenging, but the students were “troopers” who put on a very good show.
Liam was in the virtual productions, but he prefers the live versions.
“Virtual is definitely harder than being here with people. In person it’s definitely a lot better,” he said.
Jude said being on stage is a thrill.
“I like how when you’re on stage and performing before the audience, it’s kind of cool to be up there doing all the moves,” he said.
The choreographer is Deb Coupe, who has been assisting with productions at St. Edmond’s since her son started there as a fourth-grader in 1999.
DeHart said the spring production, “Music Man Jr.,” will be done in theater with the staff wearing masks made for the stage so the actors’ faces will be visible.
St. Edmond’s will hold performances on Nov. 12 and 13 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for adults are $35, and for seniors and children are $20. They must be ordered in advance because of social distancing requirements. The form and payment options are available at https://drive.google.com/file/d/1woaZFXtSPIzGWea-o4TK0gSnnkRicdpa/view?usp=sharing.