PV Alumni Take the Stage Once Again in MTI's All Together Now Concert
Abigail Kosch '24
15 November 2021
On November 13, 2021 current Passaic Valley students and alumni stepped back onto the Passaic Valley stage, participating in Music Theater International's (MTI) All Together Now concert. As a way to celebrate theaters reopening, theater programs across the world joined in the weekend dedicated to musical theater.
MTI, a theatrical licensing agency, is based around educational theater. MTI puts together different shows for theater programs for both high school and elementary/middle school productions. In July, MTI announced that they would organize a concert, All Together Now, welcoming any school or theater program to participate. MTI chose four dates for possible performances, running from November 12-15, 2021. MTI made the concert free of charge for theater programs to produce. Normally, theater programs have to pay for rights to perform MTI's show. Instead, All Together Now was a free production for theaters to perform, allowing all proceeds to go towards the school's theater program.
The directors of PV’s production, PV Guidance Counselor Jennifer Shue and Music Teacher Mr. Michael DeLuccia, decided to use this opportunity in a unique way. “We’ve kind of taken it as a way to welcome back theater and as a way to get our alumni back on stage,” said Mr. DeLuccia. “I think Ms. Shue and I have talked about this for a long time, putting together a concert to get the alumni back, because they are such a big part of this school. There are so many of them that are still in the area and they love what we do. Theater was a huge part of their lives.”
For Passaic Valley's performance, PV Theater decided on a one-night only-performance, choosing November 13th as their date. "We went very simple. Production processes can be very, very difficult. We said, we're going to make this as simple as we possibly can, especially with the time frame we had," said Mr. DeLuccia. "We didn't do anything crazy. We said okay, these alumni are available to show up. We're going to rehearse maybe four or five times, we're going to rehearse the day of the concert, and then we're going to go." To enhance the mood of the production, the PV Theater crew used projections for backgrounds while songs were being performed, set up microphones on stage, and set up lighting.
Getting alumni back on the stage at PV was a way for students both past and present to connect and learn from each other and make new friendships. “It was so cool to meet people previously involved in PV Theater,” said PV junior Mallory Cestone. “We all got to sing together and chat about our experiences in the program.”
Cestone has been part of PV Theater since 2016 and has starred in previous shows such as Mamma Mia!, The Addams Family, and Zombie Prom. The opportunity to work alongside PV alumni has been a great experience for current PV students to add to the list of productions and to gain insight from alumni. “It was nice meeting all the alumni and hearing about the shows they had been in, especially the ones that I had seen when I was younger,” said Sarah Zampella ‘24. Like Cestone, Zampella has been part of the PV Theater Program from a young age, and theater has played a monumental role in her life.
Working with alumni again has been a bittersweet experience for DeLuccia and Shue. “Getting the alumni back to sing with the kids and sing all together, it’s really cool,” said Mr. DeLuccia. “Just having them walk into the room again, seeing them again, it’s just really cool. It’s just been a great experience.”
Mr. DeLuccia and Ms. Shue decided to make the performance more sentimental by selecting songs the alumni sang while student performers. “Once I mentioned [the opportunity to perform in All Together Now] to my wife, who’s also an alumna, she said, ‘Yeah, I’m in.’ One of the songs she’s singing was actually in her senior show,” said Mr. DeLuccia. “She’s singing the part she played her senior year, and we have her with a current student.”
Having former PV students return to the stage was a special event for the Passaic Valley Theater program, especially as they return to their normal schedule of productions. "It's really great to be back performing," said Zampella. "This concert was the perfect thing to get back into it."
Alumni Participating in All Together Now:
Class of 2000
Catherine Cugliari DeLuccia
Class of 2001
Class of 2012
Julio "JD" Sanchez
Class of 2014
Class of 2015
Class of 2016
Class of 2017
Class of 2017
Class of 2021
Class of 2021
Class of 2021