Residents of Maplewood and South Orange have long enjoyed the astounding musicals produced at Columbia High School year after year.
Now CHS is spreading the joy beyond the two towns with the current production of “Beauty & the Beast.”
School district mom Marietta Zacker worked with the show’s directors, Bethany Pettigrew and Tricia Benn, CHS Principal Elizabeth Aaron, and Mitch Center, Assistant Superintendent of Newark Public Schools and Maplewood resident, to create a special outreach performance at CHS on March 16 for more than 700 children from Newark public schools.
“This is a first and everyone involved with the production is so excited to share the show in this way,” said Zacker on Wednesday morning.
Zacker had nothing but praise for Pettigrew and Benn who “ensured that everyone had access to this amazing performance, both within our own communities as well as surrounding ones.”
Besides Wednesday’s “give back” to the Newark community, the show runners and district have also made complimentary tickets available to South Orange-Maplewood students and families in need through Karen Weiland, social worker for SOMSD and director of the Parenting Center. Members of the production also visited Maplewood Library for a special “Belle and Books” reading on Monday, March 15, as the kickoff to the Maplewood Ideas Festival.
“The thought that these talented and amazing CHS performers are not only benefitting from Bethany and Tricia’s brilliance, but also seeing the importance of giving back is fantastic, if you ask me,” said Zacker.
Zacker also thanked Tricia Bloom, Curator of American Art at Newark Museum and Maplewood resident, for connecting the district with Mitch Center and Newark Public Schools; CHS staffers Amy Singer, Janet Bustrin and Larry Busichio; and parent volunteers Patricia Canning, Marta Lucia and Jane Schneider Kampner.
The Newark schools attending on March 16 included:
Harriet Tubman – Principal: Malcolm Outlaw
Ivy Hill – Principal: Dorrice Rayam (whose daughter attends CHS)
Speedway – Principal: Atiba Buckman
One parent who saw the Newark school children piling out of buses as he dropped his children off for school at CHS said the news of the special performance “warmed my heart.”
From the look of the pictures, it warmed the hearts of a lot of youngsters too.
Click on images to enlarge. Photos by Julia Maloof Verderosa.