Western Wayne Drama Club Hosts Alumni Cabaret Night

This past January the Drama Club hosted an Alumni Cabaret Night as part of the 50th Anniversary celebration for the Western Wayne School District. Both current Drama Club members and alumni were able to participate in the event and sang to entertain their family, friends, and community members in attendance.
Alumni who participated included: Allison King, class of 2020, stage crew; Frisk Lopez, class of 2021, stage crew; Haley Strocchia, class of 2022, performer; Branda Angel, class of 2011, stage crew and performer; Kaitlyn Black, class of 2015 , performer; Joanna Regalbuto,class of 2022, performer; Brandyn Black, class of 2013, stage crew and performer; Damon Martzen, class of 2020, stage crew; and Nick DeCandis, class of 2022, performer. The Press family even brought their dog Daisy to join in the alumni fun. Daisy was Sandy in Western Wayne’s production of Annie in 2019.
Alumni Allison King and Frisk Lopez served as the lighting and sound directors for the evening. They both worked to organize and plan the event with Mrs. McLaughlin since this past spring. Current students Nate Conway and Bobby Scramuzza served as masters of ceremonies.
“It was awesome to be able to do lights and sound one more time for a show at Western Wayne,” Allison said. “It was very disappointing to miss that chance for my senior musical in 2020, and I was so happy to have this opportunity now. It was so great to be back working with all of my friends.”
Frisk was also thrilled to get the chance to work with a former classmate and friend to run the show behind the scenes.
“It was very stressful to do the show my senior year for Cinderella with so many COVID regulations,” Frisk said. “It felt great to return for this event under less stressful circumstances and to have so much fun creating the lighting and sound for it.”
Fellow stage crew alumni Damon Martzen was also happy to return to help out for the cabaret.
“I’m just so excited to be here now,” Damon said. “My favorite memory was sharing my ideas with others in the stage crew, even though the musical didn’t actually happen in 2020. I was very grateful that I got to enjoy helping out and being a part of the stage crew before I had to leave high school. I have not forgotten about this place, or the musical program, and I am proud to see that it is still as huge and supportive as it was back then.”
Alumni participant Branda Angel, class of 2011, participated in both the stage crew and as a performer in high school. She was in the ensemble for Anything Goes and Into the Woods. For Once Upon a Mattress she was a part of stage crew, set design, and played the role of the Minstrel. In addition, she was in choir for 15 years and was in her first musical in 5th grade called “Rodeo Time”.
“I love ALL memories I have from high school,” Branda said. “Being around such beautiful and loving people and teachers made high school worthwhile. The Sherman Awards was probably the most fun I had my senior year!”
Alumni Haley Strocchia, class of 2022, also has special memories from her time in Western Wayne musical theater especially because she did shows with the group during COVID times. Her past roles include: July in Annie; Lady Lucille in Once Upon a Mattress; Queen Maisie in Cinderella; and the interviewer in Little Shop of Horrors, along with being a dance captain for all shows she participated in.
“Although this isn’t my all-time favorite memory, it’s definitely one that helped shape my love for theater and drive my passion to continue performing: my first in-person rehearsal during Cinderella,” Haley recalled. “I had been quarantining the majority of my junior year and had only been able to attend online rehearsals, so I had to work on all of my blocking, choreo, lines, and songs primarily on my own. It was a struggle with the small space I had to work with at home and with the uncertainty that my parents would allow me to follow through with the role with COVID continually affecting our lives. The first time I was able to attend an in-person rehearsal, it was a little more than a month before the show. I just have to say that even though I hadn’t been able to step on that stage in a year’s time, the joy that moment brought me was amazing; I felt this major piece of me I had been missing had been restored to my soul. It was so natural to translate everything I had been working on in my bedroom to that stage, almost like I had been there all along. Although I wouldn’t realize until years later, that one rehearsal would completely change the course I wanted to take in my life because I wanted to be able to feel the sense of purpose, belonging, and accomplishment those stage lights gave me that Saturday afternoon.”
Fellow alumni who participated in shows during the time frame that Haley did also feel like their time on stage was even more meaningful due to the year they missed their musical performance in 2020.
One such alumni is Joanna Regalbuto, class of 2022. Joanna was a three-year member of the Drama Club. She was an ensemble member and featured dancer for Once Upon a Mattress and Cinderella. In addition, for her senior year she played the lead role of Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors.
“I loved my experience with theater at Western Wayne,” Joanna said. “I also was able to serve as a student director my senior year and really enjoyed collaborating with my friends to create our final production as students.”
Fellow classmate Nick DeCandis, class of 2022, was thrilled to join past classmates and alumni he worked with on Little Shop for the cabaret. Nick was a part of the musical program for one year by playing Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors. He wishes he joined the program sooner but was thrilled to play a role for his senior year that kept him on stage for almost the entire duration of the performance in addition to having the opportunity to join his friends for the cabaret.
“I love getting to sing and act on stage with my friends and be silly both in and out of character,” Nick said. “I really enjoy entertaining people.”
Another couple who enjoy entertaining others on the Western Wayne stage are Kaitlyn and Brandyn Black. They both entertained the audience at cabaret night and even did a special short dance for everyone along with singing. In past shows, Kaitlyn played Gloria in Thoroughly Modern Millie; a silly girl and salt shaker in Beauty and the Beast; and Agatha in Guys and Dolls. Brandyn also played a plethora of roles in his high school career, most notably Monsieur D’Arque in Beauty and the Beast, along with also participating in the stage crew. Brandyn also played a minor, yet very important, role in the opener of Beauty and the Beast of the bookkeeper that led to him meeting Kaitlyn during the production and going on to marry her years later.
Kaitlyn enjoys telling the story of how they met.
“Back in 2013 when we just started practices for Beauty and the Beast, the directors were talking about how every character is important, especially in big, busy group numbers like the opening scene,” she explained. “Everyone made up their own character stories such as ‘I’m the baker’s wife’ or ‘I’m the crazy woman who really needs six eggs’. At the time, the bookkeeper character pointed at me as I walked across the stage saying ‘I need a wife. You’re going to be my wife’. That bookkeeper and I have been together now for almost 10 years and have been married since September 2021. He predicted the future, and I became his wife! Without the WW musical, I would have never met Brandyn. I am eternally grateful for the memories I have made in all of the productions, but that one is especially special.”
All of the alumni and students who participated in cabaret night were excited to have the unique experience of performing and working together along with sharing many memories while making new ones. The Western Wayne musical directors hope to put on another Alumni Cabaret for Western Wayne’s 55th anniversary year.

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