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Alums, Students Stage Summer Showcase

For Mineola High School theater alums like John Watts, having the chance to return to the school’s stage means more than just another night under the lights.


It isn’t just nostalgia that’s powering the one-night-only MHS Summer Showcase on Aug. 8, Watts, the music director, said. For the second year in a row, alumni are teaming up with current students to put on a performance with all profits benefiting the school’s drama department. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for an 8 p.m. curtain.


Following the popularity of last year’s Les Miserables reunion show, Watts said the group of graduates saw another opportunity to contribute to the school district’s renown music and fine arts education program.


“The success that we had proved something could be done consistently over the summer,” Watts, a member of the Class of 2010, said. “And I think that having come back last summer, we were inspired again and we had so much fun doing it and we really enjoyed it and it was this reminder of how much we love it.”


Since this year’s theme is focused on celebrating 35 years of theater in Mineola schools, the performance is a little different than in 2013. The production, which has about 25 members total, is a cabaret-style variety show highlighting the talents of current students who will be performing numbers from musicals the school has put on in the past, according to Watts. Les Miserables last year consisted of a mostly alumni-dominated cast, he said.


“The high school kids are in the spotlight now,” Watts said, later adding former graduates are there mainly as directors. “They have the leads. The alumni play very much a minor role this year. We only appear in one or two numbers, so we take more of a back seat.”


Joseph Owens, the supervisor for fine and performing arts in the district and an alum himself, said the fact alumni want to come back and help out is part of what makes the Mineola theater successful.


“I think what I really like about it is that it’s driven by the alumni and their dedication to our program,” Owens said. “I think it’s great they want to give back to our program and give back to our community.”


This year, the six alumni – Production Manager Jenelle Fiori, Co-Directors Alex Eisen and Aislinn Oliveri, Technical Director Thomas Falls, Recruiter Robert DiBella and Watts – launched a social media campaign and website to advertise the performance as well. A Kickstarter fundraiser raised about $2,000 for the group, according to Watts.


“It really played a part in getting people’s interest up and of course, you know, helping contact people and getting information out,” Watts said.


Fiori, member of the Class of 2008, said tickets, which will be general admission, can be purchased on the website at for $15 each. Sales from raffle tickets will be donated to the

Mineola Crises Center, which helps families in need in the community with acquiring what they need to get by, according to Fiori. 


She also said about one third of the theater’s seats were filled last year, so the group is hoping to see an increase in attendance this time around.


“In terms of profits, or what we raise for the Fine Arts Department and for the Mineola Crisis Center, I mean, whatever happens, happens,” Fiori said.


With fingers crossed and ready to break a leg, Fiori said she would also like to welcome other graduates to come to the performance.


“I would love to have any other alumni come out and help support us,” she said, “and I think it’s really unique that we’re doing this as [alumni] and we’re volunteering our time. Where else would you see that, you know? That’s just something about Mineola… it’s just a really great thing to see.”