Trumbull students bringing '42nd Street' to stage

TRUMBULL — Trumbull High students will be putting their talents on full display this month, turning the Robert E McCarthy Auditorium into a 1930s Broadway theater for their spring production of "42nd Street."

Performances will be March 17, 18, 24 and 25, each at 7:30 p.m., with a Sunday matinee on March 19 at 2 p.m. 

“(The THS musical program) is a place where you will not only be accepted, but also have the opportunity to build your character and be your authentic self,” said senior Olivia Mate, who is starring as Dorothy Brock in the upcoming production. 

Produced by the school's Thespian Society, more than 100 students are in the cast and crew. The group has been hard at work since the beginning of December learning their lines, practicing intricate choreography, and honing the technical skills needed to build and light the stage, sets, and props. 

Artistic Director Jessica Spillane, who is celebrating her 25th year directing with THS Musicals by revisiting her first show at the school, said the nostalgia has been palpable. 

“'42nd Street' is the very first musical I ever worked on at THS as a brand new teacher in the district,” Spillane said. “Helping with that show solidified that I wanted to work with kids outside the four walls of my English classroom as a director.”  

Recalling the auditorium’s namesake, Spillane noted, “Shortly after that production, Principal Bob McCarthy called me into his office and said, ‘You’re ready to take over the program and direct, right?’ I had no idea what I was doing but said yes anyway. Bob had a way of making you feel like you could do anything if you just worked hard and loved the kids enough.”

Originally produced in 1980, "42nd Street" is the story of Peggy Sawyer from Allentown, Pa., who comes to Broadway in Depression-era New York City looking to get her big break in the latest show by famous director Jullian Marsh. She gets her break when the more experienced star of the show, Dorothy Brock, becomes injured before opening night.   

For the high-energy tap dance numbers, the veteran creative team is joined by choreographer Sally Hong, whose previous experiences include years as a Radio City Music Hall Rockette and a cast member of the "42nd Street" national tour. 

Additionally, long-time music director Jerold Goldstein performed with the show’s European tour as Bert Berry. Students say they consider it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with professionals who have done the show at the highest levels. 

Freshman Nicole Yezersky describes her experience learning all the dances as “amazing.”

“I have never tapped a day in my life," she said. "Learning with our tap instructor has been a wonderful experience because it has opened my eyes to trying new things and to not letting anything stop me.” 

Producer Matt Bracksieck who has been involved with THS Musicals since 2010 talked about the students who, after graduating from Trumbull High School, come back to work as mentors and advisors to the next generation of students. 

“This year we have four adult alumni who have come back to collaborate with us on this production as set designers, master builder, lighting designer and technical director,” Bracksieck said. “We’re lucky to have them come back to help us build the program. 

“That so many alumni return to be involved speaks to the family bond that is built in the program,” he said. 

Junior Nora Watson, who last year played the role of Ariel Moore in "Footloose," and this year is playing Peggy Sawyer, said “While it is a big commitment, it is so worth it when all the hard work pays off and we have a beautiful show.  

Tickets are $20 and $18. For tickets and more information, visit

Featuring classic songs like “Lullaby of Broadway,” “Shuffle off to Buffalo,” and “We’re in the Money,” Mate said the show was pleasing for all ages.

"Come to THS to see us tap and sing through the 1930s," she said. "Our shows never disappoint.”