Thursday, September 23, 2004

Stars return to old stage



By Anna Guido
Enquirer contributor

[photo]
McNicholas High School alumni (from left) Cathy Aylward (class of '76) and Kathy Durkee ('67) rehearse "Musical Memories," a fund-raiser starring the school's theater alumni from as far back as 1955. The school is raising money for a new theater.
Photo by THOMAS E. WITTE/For the Enquirer
More than 100 alumni singing their signature songs from high school musicals past will come together this weekend to raise money for a new school theater.

LeRoy Bishea, who had the lead role in McNicholas High School's first operetta in 1954 - Sunbonnet Girl - is returning to the stage for the first time.

Bishea said that, when he learned performers from past musicals were getting together for a cause, he thought, "Well, that includes me - I'm still living."

Besides, the 1955 grad added, "It's the best thing going on right now."

McNicholas High, enrollment 870, is a co-ed Catholic high school and part of the Cincinnati Archdiocese.

IF YOU GO
What: "Musical Memories" fund-raiser
When: 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday
Where: McNicholas High School gymnasium, 6536 Beechmont Ave., Mount Washington
Tickets: $15 and $10. Cabaret style seating at tables of eight to 10; bleacher seating for students. Cost includes soft drinks and snacks.
Information: Joanne Costello, 231-3500, ext. 5817
The "Musical Memories" fund-raiser is an offshoot of the McNicholas High capital campaign that includes raising money for a fine arts facility. It is the brainstorm of former McNicholas teacher Sister Judi Keehnen of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.

"I almost started crying when I saw the response," she said. "I just can't believe that so many kids want to do this."

McNicholas High's theater now is part of the school's original gymnasium. It seats about 200 and has no stage. Because of its size, large productions have to be rehearsed and put on in the new gym between volleyball and other sports games and practices, said show producer Mary Masci (class of '71).

The new theater will add another 100 seats.

Not all the past musicals will be represented in the weekend fund-raiser. But original cast members - several of whom have performed on Broadway and Chicago stages - will sing most of the selections, Masci said.

Between selections, at least two alumni will emcee the program, including 1966 grad Dan Guntzelman, a script writer for the hit television series WKRP in Cincinnati.

The musical review is the first event of its kind for McNicholas.

Show director Gary Rogers (class of '75) said one reason for the extravaganza "is to keep alumni aware of our needs."

"But I don't know whether we'll be able to get all of these crazy people here to do this again," Rogers said.




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