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Cheshire's Sound of Music to Soar this Weekend

Students from Doolittle, Highland, Dodd, CHS, St. Bridget and Chase Schools perform in community production.

As with any large cast, this weekend's Cheshire Community Theater production of The Sound Of Music, consists of veteran performers and newcomers who just got the acting bug.

Wade Elmer, formerly of Cheshire, said he's performed in at least 15 CCT productions and Dennis Cavaliere has done the sound design on 20 productions for the Cheshire theater.

New to the CCT stage this season are: Brooke Ashley D’Addio, a fourth grader at Doolittle Elementary School; Julie Daly a Cheshire substitute teacher; Amber Pasha and Emma Purtell, both sophomores at Cheshire High School; Caytlin Pinkham from St. Bridget School; Kelsey Uguccioni a sixth grader at Highland Elementary School; Angela Williams a junior at CHS and Dave Wnuck who joins his wife and daughter in the production.

The opening performance is Friday at 8 p.m. at Cheshire High School's Thorp Auditorium. The production continues at 8 p.m. on Saturday and ends with a matineee on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets at the door are $20 and $15 for seniors or students and $10 for children under 12. Tickets may be reserved by calling 203-272-9831 and paid for at the door.

If you're not familiar with the musical which starred Julie Andrews in the 1965 movie, suffice it to say it has intrigue, romance, suspense and a happy ending.

It begins when a young woman at a convent isn't considered fit for life as a nun. Maria is sent to be a governess for seven children of a strict naval captain who is a widower. Romance ensues after a bit of hilarity with the children who grow to love Maria. The governess marries her employer. Then, the Nazis invade Austria and the family must escape over the Alps to freedom. 

Favorite songs from the musical include: "Do-Re-Mi, "My Favorite Things" and "Climb Ev'ry Mountain."

Here is the cast of the Cheshire Community Theater production:
Maria …………………………Maggie Federico                             Captain ………………………………Richard Williams
Liesl ………………………………Jacqui Moran                             Friedrich ………………………………Adam Mejeski
Louisa ………………………Samantha Weed                               Kurt………………………………………Thomas Mueller
Brigitta ………………………………Emily Daly                              Marta……………………………………Brooke Daddio
Gretl……………………………Caytlin Pinkham                             Elsa……………………………………Kimberly Sanders
Max………………………………Jack Bussmann                             
Mother Abbess…………………………Michelle Noel
Sister Margaretta ……………Tracy Peters                              
Sister Berthe ………………………Angela Williams
Sister Sophia ………………………Julie Daly                              
Rolf ……………………………………Alistair Mosher
Frau Schmidt ……………………Karen Burns                            
Herr Zeller……………………………Tony Enright
Admiral von Schreiber……………Ben Page                             Franz……………………………………Wade Elmer

Nuns
Amber Pasha, Annie Wnuck, Emma Purtell, Jennifer Brown, Julia Marcouiller, Julia Torok,  Kelsey Uguccioni, Tessa Coleman, Gina Allegrini, Jillian Pasinski

Ensemble
Paul Bianca, Kevin Spooner
Director…………………………Leona (Lee) Russell                              
Music Director………………………Kim Yannon

Stage Manager…………………Dana Sachs                                Props……………………………………Cynthia Parisi

 Cast members bios:

Gina Allegrini ( Girl Puppet) is a student at Dodd Middle School.  She loves acting, singing, and gymnastics and plays the flute.

Jennifer Brown (Nun/Party Guest) lives in Cheshire and is a sophomore at Cheshire High School.  She has appeared in CYT's Guys and Dolls and Willy Wonka as well as shortened versions of Little Shop of Horrors and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Seven Angels Theater Summer Theater Camp in Waterbury.  Jen is so excited to be in this CCT show this year with this amazing cast and she is going to miss them when the show is over.

Karen Burns (Frau Schmidt) was a late bloomer to acting, but has always loved the theater and is thrilled to be performing with CCT.  Previous credits include The Palace Theater/Seven Angels Theater joint venture Thoroughly Modern Millie (ensemble) and Castle Craig Players’ You Can’t Take It With You (Rheba) and The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail (ensemble).   Many thanks to my husband Larry for his love and support.

Jack Bussmann (Maximilian Detweiler) lives in Cheshire and has appeared in numerous CCT productions including Love and Laughter, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical, Guys and Dolls, and A Grand Night For Singing.  He also performed in 12 Angry Men with Castle Craig Players in Meriden.  Jack lists his hobbies as working with Adobe Photoshop and singing with and entertaining patients with Alzheimer’s disease. He would like to dedicate his performance to his dad.

Tessa Coleman (Nun/Party Guest) is a seventh grade student at Saint Bridget School in Cheshire.  She is excited to be performing as a young nun with the very talented cast of The Sound of Music.  She has also performed in Beauty and the Beast, and as "Pepper" in Annie. Her hobbies outside of theater include basketball, swimming, and chorus.

Brooke Ashley D’Addio (Marta von Trapp) is nine years old and a 4th grader at Doolittle Elementary School.  This is her first production with Cheshire Community Theater.  She is an avid singer and softball player and also enjoys reading, dancing, and cooking.  In her free time Brooke is a thrill seeker and enjoys going to amusement parks where she can be found going on numerous roller coaster rides.  Brooke aspires to one day be a famous singer and actress.

Emily Daly (Brigitta von Trapp) is a fifth grader at Doolittle School. She took part in the AGP Performing Arts Academy in town last spring [thanks Mississippi (Mrs.Cippi)!!] and has been in The Nutcracker through Cheshire Dance Centre since first grade.  Her favorite part was Party Girl. Emily also enjoys swimming with the Sea Dogs and playing soccer with the Cheshire Soccer Club, as well as reading everything she can get her hands on.  She sings in a choir in her school. She has enjoyed her role as Brigitta very much!  “Thanks to all of my classmates and friends who encouraged me to audition, and thanks to Mom and Dad who drove me to rehearsals and to my family for their encouragement.”

Julie Daly (Sister Sophia), a wife and mother of three, is a substitute teacher in the Cheshire Public Schools.  She portrayed Abby Brewster in her high school production of Arsenic and Old Lace and performed with various acting and singing groups in college and high school.  She enjoys traveling, watching old movies, reading and crocheting.  She has been having a great time in her first experience with Cheshire Community Theater, especially sharing it with her daughter, Emily, and she would like to thank her family for all their love and support!

Wade Elmer (Franz) has worked with CCT on and back stage in over 15 plays.  He is always pleased to join in and be part of a production.  Wade works in New Haven as a plant scientist, but tonight he's dancing with the stars.

Maggie Federico is thrilled to play the role of Maria.  Maggie is a freshman at Southern Connecticut State University majoring in Elementary Education.  Her affiliation with CCT began back in 2003 with Jesus Christ Superstar, followed by Cinderella in 2004, Children of Eden in 2008, Little Women in 2009, and A Grand Night For Singing in 2011.  “I have enjoyed working with everyone in the past, and this cast is no exception. Everyone is so talented and kind- hearted. I wish everyone the best of luck and thanks for working so diligently. To my ‘children’ thank you for inviting me to join your spirit nights, it was thrilling and brought us closer! I’d like to dedicate this performance to my grandparents, because with their support, I can ‘climb every mountain!’ My parents have always pushed me to ‘follow every rainbow, till you find your dream!’ And to my siblings who come to cheer me on at every show, you are ‘a few of my favorite things!’”

Adam Majeski (Friedrich von Trapp) is very excited to join this production of The Sound of Music.  Adam has been in several local performances with Cheshire Youth Theater and, most recently, Dodd Middle School’s Aladdin Jr. (Jafar) and Beauty and the Beast (Cogsworth).  His hobbies include singing, acting, and swimming.  This summer Adam traveled to Greece, Italy, and France as a student ambassador with the People to People program.  Adam lives in Cheshire and is excited to start his freshman year at Cheshire High School and participate in student government as the freshman class president.    “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all-in which case you fail by default “- J.K. Rowling.

Julia Marcouiller  (Nun/Party Guest)is so excited to be appearing in this show!  She started acting in third grade and has loved it since then.  She has taken acting and musical theater classes at Artsplace in Cheshire and Oddfellows Playhouse in Middletown.  Last summer, Julia participated in CYT's production of Willy Wonka, in which she had the roles of a cook and an Oompa Loompa.  She is currently under the vocal instruction of Roberta De Fiore.  Julia hopes you love the show as much as she enjoyed participating in it!

This is Jacqui Moran’s (Liesl von Trapp) third performance with Cheshire Community Theater, with previous CCT credits in Children of Eden and Cinderella.  The Sound of Music is a favorite movie of hers, so she is thrilled to be in this stage production.  A seasoned performer, her musical credits outside of CCT include The Scarlet Pimpernel, Guys and Dolls, andHonk, Jr.  Jacqui is an eleventh grader at The Chase Collegiate School in Waterbury, and enjoys dancing (10 years), singing, and playing guitar.  It is through her dance and singing that she has performed on the stages at Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, and Carnegie Hall.

Alistair Mosher (Rolf) has participated in the St. Peters Choral group for several years. He has also been in two Dodd Middle School musicals, one being Aladdin Jr. in which he played the title character. His hobbies are tennis, singing, and golfing. He hopes to become a singer of recognition when he grows up.

Thomas Mueller (Kurt von Trapp), a seventh grader at Dodd Middle School, has participated in various improvisation classes and theater workshops over the last several years.   Thomas was in Romeo & Harriet (Prologue) and Hairy Tale Rock (Bill) at Highland Elementary School.  Last year with the Cheshire Youth Theater he performed in Ronald Dahl's Willy Wonka as Augustus Gloop.  Thomas likes to play soccer and play the piano.

Michelle Noel (Mother Abbess) never imagined as a little Jewish girl growing up in NJ that one day she would live in CT and play the role of a nun, especially the #1 nun in charge. She has fond memories of watching the movie version of The Sound of Music on New Year’s Eve with her beloved Grammie back in NJ and is very pleased to be able to take part in this production.  Past CCT credits include Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (Stepmother), Guys and Dolls (Miss Adelaide), Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical (Nellie) and Dearly Departed (Raynelle). Michelle has also performed in productions by Manchester Musical Players, Podium Players, Seven Angels Theater, Thomaston Opera House, Southington Community Theater and Connecticut Cabaret Theater. She thanks her husband, Phil, for putting up with all those evenings home alone (again).

Ben Page (Admiral von Schrieber) has acted in various CCT productions as well as with other local groups over the years. His role as the Admiral, although it’s short and the character a Nazi, is a bit more dignified than the older geezer of some sort that he has usually played. He is glad to have this chance to somewhat catch up with his 4 ¾ year old granddaughter—she recently finished a “run” as the child in Mme Butterfly at the State Opera, in Prague. In his day job Ben  “performs” as a Philosophy professor at Quinnipiac University.  It has been very interesting, he says, to be part of such a large cast as it is brought together into one play. Hats off to everyone involved!

Amber Pasha (Nun/ Party Guest/Puppeteer) will be entering her sophomore year at Cheshire High School and is excited to be performing in her first production with Cheshire Community Theater.  Her previous acting credits include the role of Belle (understudy) in Beauty & The Beast Jr. and Frau Gloop in Willy Wonka, as well as an ensemble role in The Music Man.  She would like to thank the entire The Sound of Music cast for making this an unforgettable experience.  Acting has and always will be one of "My Favorite Things."

Jillian Pasinski (Nun/ Boy Puppet), an eighth grader at Dodd Middle School, is excited to perform in The Sound of Music.  She has also performed in Aladdin Jr. as Iago (understudy), 101 Dalmatians, and several other plays.  She enjoys swimming, skiing, and of course, acting.  She would like to thank her family for supporting her.

Tracy Peters (Sister Margaretta) is excited to be back on stage with CCT, but especially alongside her daughter, Jacqui!  She was last seen here as a soloist in A Grand Night for Singing. Other CCT credits include Children of Eden (Aysha, Storyteller), Jekyll & Hyde, the Musical (ensemble), Blood Brothers (ensemble), Guys and Dolls (Sarah Brown), Cinderella (the Queen), andJesus Christ, Superstar (ensemble).  In addition to performing onstage, Tracy works behind the scenes as the Treasurer of CCT.  Other favorite roles include Miss Jones (How to Succeed in Business...), Edith (Pirates of Penzance), Rosie (Bye, Bye Birdie!) and Josephine (H.M.S. Pinafore).   In her off-stage life, Tracy works in the Communications Department at Choate Rosemary Hall and enjoys cooking, traveling, hiking and knitting.

Caytlin Pinkham (Gretl von Trapp) is thrilled to be part of her first play.  She loves so many things and this is a great opportunity for her to draw from her background in dance, singing and musical theater (Go Camp Sloper!) as she makes her debut on the CCT stage.  Caytlin currently attends St. Bridget's and loves sports, music, arts, and all things pink.

Emma Purtell (Nun/Party Guest) is entering tenth grade at Cheshire High School this year and is thrilled to be participating in her first show, The Sound of Music, with Cheshire Community Theater.  Her previous theater experience includes Pirates of Penzance, Once Upon a Mattress, The Wizard of Oz, Guys and Dolls, Annie, Beauty and the Beast twice, and The Music Mantwice.  When not singing or acting, she likes to run or hang out with her friends.  Emma wants to thank her family for their continuous support. To the entire cast: “Break a leg and a special shout out to all of my nuns!”

Kimberly Sanders (Elsa) is making her Cheshire Community Theater debut.  Kim most recently appeared as April in Companyand Johanna in Sweeney Todd, both at Act II Theatre.  Other credits include Miss Phillips/Dance Captain in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at the Warner Theatre, Kate in Love, Sex and the IRS at the Phoenix Stage Company, and Dance Captain in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Thomaston Opera House.  Kim is also a volunteer at the Palace Theater in Waterbury.  She'd like to especially thank her fiance Ken for all his love and support.

Kevin Spooner (Party Guest) is new to theater.  He has been an extra in two movies made for television.  He has done a few cooking segments on Live TV WTNH 8 and has also appeared on The Food Network. Kevin is presently employed as a model maker.

Julia Torok (Nun/Party Guest) is delighted to be a part of Cheshire Community Theater’s production of The Sound of Music.  She is a Cheshire resident and a member of the freshman class at Cheshire High School.  Her past experiences include the roles of Mrs. Potts in Dodd Middle School’s Beauty and the Beast Jr. and Princess Jasmine in Dodd Middle School’s production ofAladdin Jr.  In her free time, Julia enjoys singing, dancing, and playing the saxophone.

Kelsey Uguccioni (Nun/Party Guest) started her acting career in the sixth grade at Highland Elementary School as the evil stepsister in Twinderella.  In the eighth grade, she played one of the maids in Annie . She has been a part of the Cheshire High School theater department as well.  Kelsey was a native islander in South Pacific, a townsperson in The Music Man, and is planning to audition for Cheshire High’s spring musical, The Wiz.  She is very excited to be a part of Cheshire Community Theater for the first time and hopes to continue to act throughout high school.

Samantha Weed (Louisa von Trapp) lives in Cheshire with her parents, her two younger brothers, her dog, Dahlia, and her rabbit, Harvey.  She recently turned 12 and entered the 7th grade at Dodd.  Interest in singing and theater began at an early age.  Her most recent theater experiences include Highland School Drama Club productions of Romeo and Harriet and Hairy Tale Rock, in which she played Rapunzel.  Last summer Sami performed in CYT's production of Willy Wonka.  Other hobbies include reading, cooking, and hanging out with friends.

Angela Williams (Sister Berthe) is enthusiastic about her first involvement with Cheshire Community Theatre, and being on stage with her Dad.  She is a junior at Cheshire High School and enjoys reading, creative writing, singing, and especially animals.  She has performed in past Cheshire Youth Theatre and school productions, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Wizard of Oz, Annie, South Pacific, Willy Wonka, and The Music Man.  “Thanks to Mom and Dad for inspiring me to persevere with my love of acting and music!”

Richard Williams (Captain von Trapp) is jazzed to be back for his second performance with Cheshire Community Theatre, having played Captain Hastings in the 2007 production of Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee.  He enjoys living in Cheshire with his family of seven, and continues to serve as a family doctor here in town.  Other past stage credits include Sir Toby Belch in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, John in The Man Who Came to Dinner, and Mr. Beaver in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Rich would like to thank his co-workers for their encouragement and patience, and sends out his love to wife Nancy and kids Christiana, Joseph, Julia, Stephen, and Angela.

Annie Wnuck (Nun/Party Guest) is thrilled to be part of The Sound of Music cast.  She has worked with Cheshire Youth Theatre for three years, appearing in the Wizard of Oz (flying monkey), Guys and Dolls (General Cartwright) and, most recently, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Oompa Loompa).  This year, she acted in the freshman 'One Acts' play at Cheshire High School.  She also recently appeared in Backbeat City's production of Thoroughly Modern Millie (Gloria, u/s Miss Dorothy).  In her spare time, Annie enjoys reading and playing with her collie, King.

Dave Wnuck (Baron Elberfeld) is enjoying his first foray into acting. His muse is his lovely daughter, Annie, a veteran of the stage and also an actress in this play.  Dave loves the vibrancy and camaraderie of working in a troupe, and the acting bug may just have bit.

Leona (Lee) Russell (Director) has been involved in theatre since she was a child and her passion for it has never waned.  Starting out back stage, she quickly moved to acting, singing, and dancing and loved every minute of it.  Lee thought performing was the epitome of theatre.  However, after her first directing experience, she realized it was an even greater joy to be involved in developing the characters in a play.  As a director, you touch so many lives while developing the talents within the actors.  Her directing experience spans from Children’s Theatre, High School Theatre, Community Theatre and performances throughout New York, Connecticut, Florida, North Carolina and back to Connecticut with credits too numerous to mention.  Lee continues to perform but her preference is to direct. She would like to thank her husband Jim for all his support and encouragement to pursue her love for the theatre.

Dr. Kim Yannon (Music Director) has taught elementary and middle school general and choral music for 27 years.  She holds a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from Western Connecticut State University, a Master of Science in Music Education from Central Connecticut State University and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education and Pedagogy from The Hartt School.  She is currently Immediate Past President for Connecticut Music Educators Association and on the executive board of the Connecticut Alliance for Arts Education.  She has directed music for numerous Cheshire Community Theater, Cheshire Youth Theater, and Cheshire High School productions and is thrilled to be working with such a talented cast for The Sound of Music.

Dennis Cavaliere (Sound Design) resides in New Haven, CT and is a graduate of the Institute of Audio Research in New York City. He has been working in the audio field for over 25 years and has recorded and/or provided sound reinforcement for international artists as well as local bands, solo artists, musicals and plays. He was keyboardist and lead vocalist in his own two bands for over 10 years. Dennis is an Audio Engineer for the MLB Network in Secaucus, NJ since its launch in 2009. He is a proud two-time recipient of a 2009 and a 2011 National Sports Emmy for “Outstanding Technical Achievement – Studio” that he won as part of the technical team for the show “MLB Tonight”. MLBN produces live and recorded in-studio sports news shows and specials for their satellite and cable channels. Previously, he was a Stage Manager and Audio Engineer for NBA Entertainment television studios in New York City and Secaucus, NJ doing live and recorded television shows for 9 years. In Connecticut, Cheshire Community Theatre Sound Design and Reinforcement credits include:   Moon over Buffalo; The Boys Next Door; A View From the Bridge; The Importance of Being Earnest; Jesus Christ, Superstar; Cinderella; Guys and Dolls; Blood Brothers; Little Women; A Grand Night For Singing and The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged). Dennis is proud to be involved with The Sound of Music, his 20th show for CCT.

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